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Another pandemic on the same scale as Covid-19 is likely to come within the next 60 years, a new study has warned.
Experts at Duke University in the USA found that the number of diseases spreading to humans is set to rise threefold in the coming decades.
The study also found that there is a two per cent chance of a pandemic emerging again in any year.
While the Covid-19 pandemic may have been the deadliest virus outbreak since Spanish influenza over 100 years ago, the experts warned that it will probably not be the last.
Study author Dr William Pan from Duke University said: "The most important takeaway is that large pandemics like Covid-19 and the Spanish flu are relatively likely.
“Understanding pandemics aren’t rare should raise the priority of efforts to prevent and control them in future.”
To make the predictions, the experts used the scale and frequency of outbreaks over the past four centuries.
A variety of deadly pathogens were included in the study, including plague, smallpox, cholera, typhus and novel influenza viruses.
Despite the fact that the rate of the pandemics vary, certain patterns were identified, which allowed the researchers to calculate how likely an event of similar scale was likely to happen again.
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The researchers warn that the probability of novel disease outbreaks will likely grow three-fold in the next few decades.
A pandemic similar in scale to Covid-19 could therefore be on the cards within the next 59 years.
Co-author Professor Gabriel Katul said: "That is not to say we can count on a 59-year reprieve from a COVID-like pandemic, nor that we're off the hook for a calamity on the scale of the Spanish flu for another 300 years.
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"When a 100-year flood occurs today, one may erroneously presume that one can afford to wait another 100 years before experiencing another such event.
"This impression is false. One can get another 100-year flood next year."
Dr Pan added: "This points to the importance of early response to disease outbreaks and building capacity for pandemic surveillance at the local and global scales, as well as for setting a research agenda for understanding why large outbreaks are becoming more common."
- In the News
- Channel 4
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