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Scientists reveal the chances of another COVID-19-level pandemic

What are the chances of another pandemic?

A monitor in a COVID-19 ward at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Vitals from a ventilator are seen on a monitor in a COVID-19 ward at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La., on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.
Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

The coronavirus pandemic upended society in a number of ways. But what are the chances that such a pandemic would happen again?

Will there be another pandemic?

A new statistical study reviewed the likeliness of another COVID-19-level pandemic happening in any given year.

  • There’s a 2% chance it can happen in any given year, according to the study.

Over an entire lifetime, this means there’s something close to a 38% chance of people experiencing a big pandemic in their life. And that will only get worse with time, the experts said.

  • “The most important takeaway is that large pandemics like COVID-19 and the Spanish flu are relatively likely,” said William Pan, a Duke University global environmental health researcher, in a statement.

How to know if there will be another pandemic

The researchers reviewed historical records for epidemics from the year 1600 to now. In all, they found 476 different epidemics, with about half of those having high casualty numbers.

  • However, the researchers did not review pandemics with infectious diseases, which excludes pandemics such as COVID-19 or ones caused by viruses’ like HIV or malaria, according to Science Alert.

What is the next COVID-19?

Researchers at the the One Health Institute at the University of California, Davis created a tool back in April 2021 — called SpillOver — that ranks a potential virus by its risk level to humans.

  • The viruses are ranked based on the host, environment and strength of the virus.

Right now, “Coronavirus 229E (bat strain)” has the highest risk score since it is from “the same viral family as SARS-CoV-2 and infects bats in Africa,” according to Fox News.

  • “This tool is intended to start a global conversation that will allow us to go far beyond how we thought about ranking viruses in the past and allow real-time scientific collaboration to identify new threats early,” Jonna Mazet, a professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “SpillOver can help advance our understanding of viral health threats and enable us to act to reduce the risk of spillover before pandemics can catch fire.”