Congolese microbiologist Jean-Jacques Muyembe has warned that more pandemics more deadly than COVID-19 will threaten humanity.
Muyembe was part of a research team that investigated the first known outbreak of the Ebola virus in 1976.
The microbiologist has expressed concern that the world is facing an unknown number of new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from Africa’s tropical rainforests.
“We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out. And that is what poses a threat to humanity,” he told CNN.
According to him, future pandemics could be more apocalyptic than COVID-19.
Researchers are now working to combat the threat of so-called ‘Disease X’ – a pathogen that could flood the world as quickly as COVID-19, but with a shocking death rate from Ebola, Sun UK reported.
As a young researcher, Muyembe took blood samples from victims of a then-unknown disease that killed nine out of 10 patients.
These samples were sent from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to scientists around the world who discovered a worm-shaped virus in patients ’blood that was later named after the Ebola River.
The disease – which causes vomiting and terrible internal bleeding – is thought to have first spread to humans from an animal, perhaps a fruit bat.
He believes that people who encroach on the wilderness greatly increase the risk of new pandemics.
Muyembe now runs the National de Recherche Biomédicale Institute in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and warns that there are more zoonotic diseases – in which pathogens jump between animals and humans.
“If you go to the forest, you will change the ecology, and insects and rats will leave this place and come to the villages. So this is the transmission of viruses, new pathogens,” he said.