From The Guardian
March 18, 2018
Somewhere out there a dangerous virus is boiling up in the bloodstream of a bird, bat, monkey or pig, preparing to jump to a human being. It’s hard to comprehend the scope of such a threat, for it has the potential to wipe out millions of us, including my family and yours, over a matter of weeks or months. The risk makes the threat posed by Islamic State, a ground war, a massive climate event or even the dropping of a nuclear bomb on a major city pale by comparison.
A new epidemic could turn into a pandemic without warning. It could be born in a factory farm in Minnesota, a poultry farm in China or the bat-inhabited elephant caves of Kenya – anywhere infected animals are in contact with humans. It could be a variation of the 1918 Spanish flu, one of hundreds of other known microbial threats or something entirely new, such as the 2003 Sars virus that spread globally from China. Once transmitted to a human, an airborne virus could pass from that one infected individual to 25,000 others within a week, and to more than 700,000 within the first month. Within three months, it could spread to every major urban centre in the world. And by six months, it could infect more than 300 million people and kill more than 30 million.