Prepare for a pandemic deadlier than COVID-19

The head of the World Health Organization has stressed that the world must be prepared to respond to an outbreak of a disease “more deadly” than COVID-19.

In a speech to the World Health Assembly in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the end of COVID-19 as a global health emergency does not mean that the global health threat is over.

“The risk of the emergence of another variable causing new waves of disease and death still exists,” he said at the annual decision-making meeting of the 194 member states of the World Health Organization.

“And the threat of another disease arising with the potential to be more deadly is still possible.”

Tedros’s remarks came as the World Health Organization announced the launch of an international pathogen surveillance network, to help identify and respond to emerging disease threats using genomics.

Genetic information from viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing organisms can help scientists identify and track diseases and develop treatments and vaccines.

Tedros said at the launch that the network aims to give every country access to pathogen genetic sequencing and analytics as part of its public health system.

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