Scientists are estimating that there are more than 1.7 million unknown viruses carried by animals and many of them possess the ability to infect humans. Virologists are struggling to discover and study these viruses to protect humanity from possible deadly pandemics in the near future.
For example, in mid-February, China’s health officials have confirmed the first case of human infection with a new avian flu virus strain – H7N4.
Scientists developed the Global Virome Project (GVP)
The Global Virome Project (GVP) is an initiative aimed at reducing the risk of future viral outbreaks in the next 10 years.
The objective of the project is to identify and catalog the approximately 1.7 million unknown viruses that are carried by mammals and birds. According to the project’s reports, around 800,000 out of the 1.7 million unknown viruses will have the ability to infect humans.
“This initiative may represent a significant change in the field of virology and our ability to react to new threats from zoonotic viruses,” explains Miguel Angel Jimenez, a researcher at the Animal Health Research Center, in Madrid, Spain.
Humans vulnerability to emerging diseases is higher than expected
Researchers say that viral outbreaks highlight global vulnerability to emerging diseases triggered by unknown viruses, as the tools used to fight these outbreaks are often ineffective due to the higher speed of appearance and spread of the unknown viruses in comparison to the scientists’ countermeasures developing speed.
“The GVP is an effort to break this cycle by discovering exactly what virus is on the planet and identifying those that have the potential to infect people and prevent the next pandemic before it emerges,” admitted Daszak.
Similarly to the Globe Virome Project (GVP) that aims to find and study the estimated 1.7 million unknown viruses carried by animals and which can cause deadly pandemics in humans, just recently, the WHO has introduced the Disease X, which depicts an unknown virus that might cause a deadly pandemic, in order to force scientists to double the efforts to find countermeasures to fight future pandemics caused by unknown viruses.