acemoglu30_ Jan HetfleischGetty Images_vaccine Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Preparing Now for the Next Disease X

While COVID-19 marked the world’s first encounter with a “Disease X” scenario, the accelerating pace of climate change and human encroachment on wildlife habitats increase the risk of exposure to deadly pathogens. To improve pandemic preparedness, global policymakers must adopt a more thoughtful and proactive approach.

NAIROBI/BOSTON/WASHINGTON, DC – On December 12, 2019, a group of patients in Wuhan, China, started showing symptoms of an atypical pneumonia-like illness that did not respond well to standard treatments. Ninety days later, with more than 118,000 cases reported in 114 countries and 4,291 deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.