COVID-19-like pandemic may hit again within next 60 years

COVID-19-like pandemic may hit again within next 60 years

Most of us hope the coronavirus pandemic will be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but it may be "relatively likely" that another global infectious outbreak will occur in the near future.

Scientists from the University of Padua in Italy analysed the scale and frequency of outbreaks that had "no immediate medical intervention" over the past 400 years – including the plague, smallpox and cholera.

Results - published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - suggest there is a 2% chance a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could occur in any given year.

While many of us are keen to return to life as once knew it – with unhindered travelling, the option to work in an office and no fear of cancelled plans – a similar global outbreak is "likely" to occur in the next 59 years, the scientists found.

The scientists used a new statistical model to measure past outbreaks and the probability of similar events occurring in the future, Yahoo reported.

When it comes to the coronavirus specifically, someone born in 2000 would have had a 38% chance of experiencing a similarly sized pandemic by now.

The prevalence of newfound infectious outbreaks, like the coronavirus, is set to triple over the next few decades, becoming much more common "than intuitively expected".

This has been partly put down to population growth, environmental degradation and increased contact between humans and disease-carrying animals. It is therefore statistically likely a pandemic of such a severe scale will occur within the next 400 years, according to the scientists.

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