News Focus

War Stories

Science  15 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6125, pp. 1264-1268
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6125.1264

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Summary

Many agree that the world is better prepared today than when SARS emerged in 2003 to counter infectious diseases. The outbreak drove home that the world is an awfully small place, and that collaboration is essential. Disease surveillance has improved, and scientific advances make it easier to fish an unknown pathogen from a sample and characterize it. At the same time, many countries lack the ability to detect a breakaway virus early on, and producing new vaccines quickly is still difficult for almost any disease. Although SARS painfully demonstrated that sweeping an epidemic under the rug is counterproductive, few people believe that this age-old reflex won't occur again.