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Will there be another pandemic in your lifetime?


1,915 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

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We tend to think of pandemics as unlikely events, but disease outbreaks are surprisingly common. Over the past 400 years, the longest stretch of time without a documented outbreak was just four years. So, what’s the probability of experiencing another world-changing pandemic in your lifetime? Explore the likelihood of a future pandemic and the steps we can take to reduce its destructiveness.

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From plague to cholera to the avian flu, history is a timeline of infamous global pandemics. In the wake of COVID-19, scientists and citizens alike have gained renewed interest in both anticipating and preventing the next viral outbreak. Statisticians have culled through 400 years of data to calculate the approximate frequency and intensity of extreme novel epidemics, and the numbers show that another COVID-19-level crisis may very well come again in our lifetime.
Environmental change and spillover events from animal reservoirs are only increasing the rate of such events, so a newly pressing job for scientists and global health experts is to slow the momentum of these developments. The Global Virome Project, launched in response to these mounting viral threats, aims to better understand the diversity of viruses in wildlife hosts as well as mitigate their emergence in human populations. Many efforts are focused on the development of antiviral drugs, which provide a quick and targeted way to fight dangerous outbreaks. However, as we have seen throughout the response to COVID-19, vaccines are an invaluable tool for preventing fatalities and cultivating herd immunity. As such, the search for a universal coronavirus vaccine is on. It's a project that faces a number of hurdles, both scientific and political, but one that could effectively neutralize the world's greatest viral threats. 

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Director Igor Coric, Artrake Studio
  • Script Writer George Zaidan
  • Narrator George Zaidan
  • Music Nikola Radivojevic
  • Sound Designer Nikola Radivojevic
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Alexandra Zubak
  • Associate Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer George Zaidan
  • Expert Consultant William Pan, Marco Marani, Melvin Sanicas, Nita Madhav, Ben Oppenheim, Nicole Stephenson

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