ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COVID-19: Lessons from a Knowable Unknown

Since December 2019, the world has been combating a biological enemy—COVID-19. This article looks at how we arrived at this point and how we must be better prepared to battle the next Disease x, as the World Health Organization calls it.


In 2007, the scientific journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews published a review article titled, “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as an Agent of Emerging and Re-emerging Infection” following the SARS outbreak of 2003. The authors who were scientists from the University of Hong Kong, China claimed that there were many more viruses like SARS present in the environment and a simple untoward mutation or an event of transmission would be sufficient for another SARS-like epidemic. The report went on to warn the world, especially the scientific community,

The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb. The possibility of the re-emergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.

The database of scientific articles, Pubmed, is filled with similar articles of infectious diseases caused by nearly every communicable virus known to humans, from the West Nile virus to Ebola virus which warns of potential events of pandemic scale. Unfortunately, they were all ignored only to be brought to light, temporarily, after the event occurs as in the case of the influenza pandemic of 2009 and the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic of 2019.

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Updated On : 9th Jun, 2021
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