Wild Primate Virus Has Pandemic Potential Should It Jump the Species Barrier, Shows Study

In a world still reeling from COVID-19, infectious disease researchers are eager to head off the next pandemic before it has the chance to spill over from animals to humans. But the scientific reality of pandemic prevention isn’t straightforward, and researchers have generally avoided making specific predictions about the potential of individual viruses to cause global disease.

Sometimes, though, a signal is so compelling it can’t be ignored. One such signal has prompted a group of scientists to sound the alarm about an obscure virus in wild African primates — despite the fact that neither the virus nor any of its close relatives have ever been documented in humans.

“It’s a pretty controversial prediction,” concedes Tony Goldberg, a professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

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