Flu Tops List Of Likely Pandemic Pathogens, Disease Experts Warn

Influenza ranked highest, followed by ‘Disease X,’ Coronavirus, SARS, and Ebola in terms of global pandemic potential.

<p>A sign displaying “The World is Temporarily Close”. Experts predict this could possible be the next pandemic. (EDWIN HOOPER/UNSPLASHED)</p>

Flu is the most likely pathogen to spark the next global pandemic, disease experts have warned, according to the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease.


More than half of a worldwide group of infectious diseases experts ranked influenza as the number one pathogen of concern in terms of pandemic potential.


A woman putting on hand sanitizer. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted the world by going on lockdown. (KELLY SIKKEMA/UNSPLASHED)

An as-yet unknown disease ominously named Disease X was ranked second in the list of pathogens most likely to spark another pandemic.


Other pathogens with the potential to cause a pandemic included the Coronavirus, Ebola, the original SARS virus from the early 2000s and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF).


The study, which will be formally presented at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases‘ (ESCMID) Global Congress in Barcelona later this month, quizzed 187 experts on global infectious diseases from 57 different countries.


Each expert was asked to rank various pathogens based on their perceived pandemic risk, encompassing diseases featured in the World Health Organization’s Research and Development Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics, which focuses on key infectious diseases that pose significant threats to public health.


Experts ranked the pathogens in the order of their perceived risk and also suggested pathogens not listed to be included in their maximum of 14.


The experts’ responses showed influenza viruses were viewed as the pathogen of highest concern, with over half (57 percent) ranking it first and around a sixth (17 percent) ranking it second.


More than a fifth (21 percent) of the experts ranked the as-yet-unknown Disease X as having the highest pandemic potential, with another 14 percent ranking it second.


The Coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, came third with nearly one in ten (8 percent) ranking it first and 16 percent ranking it second, whilst the original SARS-CoV virus that circulated in 2002-03 was voted number one by two percent of respondents and second by eight percent.


The CCHF and Ebola viruses were joint fifth, with 1.6 percent of experts voting them first.


Nipah virus, henipavirus, and Rift Valley fever virus were among the pathogens ranked lowest in terms of their perceived pandemic potential.


“The study revealed that influenza, Disease X, SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and the Ebola virus are the most worrisome pathogens concerning their pandemic potential,”the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. “These pathogens are characterized by their transmissibility through respiratory droplets and a history of previous epidemic or pandemic outbreaks.”


The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had encouraged people to stay home for Christmas and the New Years as the disease had raged increasing the coronavirus cases.


“Each winter we have an influenza season,” said Dr. Salmanton-Garcia on ‘mini pandemics’ across the world each winter. “One could say that this means that every winter there are little pandemics.


However, Dr. Salmanton-García added that the world is now much more prepared for a global pandemic after COVID-19.


“In the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned many things on how to approach a respiratory virus pandemic,” said Dr. Salmanton-Garcia. “This includes social distancing, hand cleaning, face masks, a renewed focus on vaccination, and trust in healthcare institutions.”


The COVID-19 pandemic had put people with pre-existing conditions in danger where they were forced to stay home.




Produced in association with SWNS Talker