11:00—12:30 PM Washington DC Time

What’s Next? Predicting The Frequency and Scale of Future Pandemics


  • Robert Agyarko, Lead Advisor, Outbreaks and Epidemics, African Risk Capacity
  • Dean Jamison, Professor Emeritus of Global Health, Institute for Global Health Sciences, University of California, San Francisco
  • Ben Oppenheim, Vice President of Product, Policy and Partnerships, Metabiota
  • Cristina Stefan, Infectious Disease Expert, Outbreaks and Epidemics, African Risk Capacity
  • Nicole Stephenson, Senior Director of Data Science and Modeling, Metabiota


  • Amanda Glassman, Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Amid a pandemic, it is difficult to consider preparing for the next one, especially when there is no certainty about its timing. COVID-19 is broadly viewed as being a “once in a lifetime” or “once in a century” pandemic; unfortunately, that is not accurate. But what is the actual return time to a future pandemic threat, and how can we ensure that the world is prepared next time?

A team from Metabiota estimates that the next pandemic might not be as far away as we think. Historical modeling suggests that the frequency and severity of epidemics caused by wildlife zoonoses are increasing, driven by human activities and their impact on the environment. They estimate that the probability of a future zoonotic spillover event resulting in a pandemic of COVID-19 magnitude or larger is between 2.5-3.3% annually. In other words, there is a 22-28% chance that another outbreak on the magnitude of COVID-19 will occur within the next 10 years, and a 47-57% chance that it will occur within the next 25 years. Other groups like African Risk Capacity are examining these probabilities with an eye to assuring a more rapid response when outbreaks occur.

Join CGD for a discussion on how we can use epidemic data and modeling tools to project future high-impact outbreak probabilities, and what we know and don’t know. The event will explore the acceleration of pandemic risk, the geographic and country income level distributions of pathogen spillover events, and the impact of early action to mitigate the impacts of an outbreak. This event will be first in a series; a follow-up will be held with an Imperial College London team working on modeling return on investment to preparedness in the fall.

If you have questions for our panelists, please submit them to [email protected], tweet @CGDev #CGDTalks, or submit your comments via YouTube.

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