The frequency of pandemics is increasing, driven by rapid demographic and environmental change and globalized trade and travel. Viruses of animal origin are a particular threat and have caused a series of significant recent outbreaks (e.g. SARS, pandemic influenza, MERS, Ebola and Zika). Recent work suggests only an estimated 1% of viral threats have been identified and fewer have had vaccines or counter measures developed. In the future, we will witness spillover from a pool of more than 500,000 currently unknown viruses into human populations. We need to be better informed about these threats to improve preparedness and reduce response times and associated costs. Here, we discuss the scientific and economic rationale, governance and technical framework for a global initiative to identify and characterize every significant viral threat available for spillover from animal reservoirs. We propose that such a step toward ending the pandemic era is achievable over the next ten years at a cost of less than $3.5 billion, and can be scaled up from current projects in a way that will provide rapid benefits to global health.
Daszak, P., Carroll, D., Wolfe, N., & Mazet, J. (2016). The global virome project. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 53, 36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2016.11.097