The scenario of novel pathogen emergence engenders uncertainty of various kinds. The very notions of the ‘novel’ and ‘emergent’ in scientific understandings reference uncertainties that can in turn seep into popular imaginaries – of viral mutation and flux, and the unexpected and unknown.

Scientific uncertainties emerge alongside the pathogens from the moment of first detection, such as those related to the type of agent, the spillover event, the epidemiological features, the clinical manifestations and virulence, and the immunological response. Amongst scientists, uncertainties are talked and written about with the excitement of a detective challenge and form the grist of discussion and interest at gatherings, such as the Research & Design (R & D) ‘Roadmap’ meetings for priority pathogens, convened by WHO.

 This is part of the Somatosphere’s Special Collection

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