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Stock illustration: Covid virus graphic

As the Covid-19 pandemic heads for a showdown with vaccines, a battle the disease is expected to lose, many experts in the field of emerging infectious diseases are already focused on preventing the next one.

They fear another virus will leap from wildlife into humans, one that is far more lethal but spreads as easily as SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes Covid-19. A virus like that could change the trajectory of life on the planet, experts say.

“What keeps me up at night is that another coronavirus like MERS—which has a much, much higher mortality rate—becomes as transmissible as Covid,” said Christian Walzer, executive director of health at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The logistics and the psychological trauma of that would be unbearable.”

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