Statistics is a mathematical science that has proven to be very effective in its calculations and predictions. By measuring the frequency with which something happens, statistics can yield different diagnoses, indicate various paths, and predict catastrophes or a certain entropy within systems.
Now a group of mathematicians, led by Marco Marani of the University of Padua, has raised the possibility that a new pandemic looms no more than six decades away. In addition, researchers have pointed out in an article published in the journal PMAS (Procedures of the National Academy of Sciences) that the probability of more pandemics arising increases considerably with each passing day.
Although the health emergency due to covid-19 seems unusual to us, the truth is that pandemics occur more frequently than we think. According to the researchers' calculations, an outbreak as deadly as that of the coronavirus would arrive in sixty years, and one such as that of the Spanish flu could be repeated in 400 years.
Furthermore, according to the Duke University Institute of Health report:
The probability of a pandemic of similar magnitude occurring ranged from 0.3 percent to 1.9 percent per year during the time period studied. Taken another way, those numbers mean that such an extreme-scale pandemic is statistically likely to occur in the next 400 years.
William Pan, one of the Duke researchers who is also involved in this analysis, states that they are not making predictions, but rather posing possible scenarios based on historical data. They point out that probability and statistics have not really addressed the field of study regarding pandemics. Given the current contingency, it would be important to review this field.
However, Gabriel Katul, another of the authors of the article, said that this probability does not mean that new pandemics will emerge until 60 or 400 years from now, but that they can occur in that period, it can be tomorrow or within fewer years of what was projected, since the risk factor increases each year considerably.
William Pan points to changing food systems, population growth and the increased contact of humans with disease-carrying animals as the main risk factors for pandemics to develop. However, he explains that these studies only characterize the situations.
The researchers also observed the possibility of the appearance of a pandemic that wipes out human life and concluded that in the next 12 thousand years, a contingency of such magnitude could exterminate the human race.
For Pan, "the most important conclusion is that major pandemics, such as COVID-19 and the Spanish flu, are relatively likely." Therefore, studies like this one would allow us to be much better prepared for contingencies and pay attention to a better implementation of international security measures. It explains that cooperation and communication between nations are essential to face this type of health emergency every time they appear.