How do funding choices help advance research against threats before they become major epidemics? How has our love for listing diseases prepared us against future outbreaks? Maybe, we should do lists completely differently.
Global outbreak preparedness efforts increase and mature in fits and spurts. Global recognition of threats such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and avian influenza A (H5N1) in the early 2000s pushed alert, outbreak, and response mechanisms, including a revision of the International Health Regulations at the World Health Organization (WHO). Eventually, in concert with country-level initiatives, organizing forces started concentrating more on research related to outbreaks, too. In 2013, world attention was focused on the pandemic potential of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and avian influenza A (H7N9), only to be surprised by the 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa. However, the large scale of the Ebola epidemic and particular difficulties in trying to do research under stress in places where constructive traditions of research were not already in place highlighted the need for a more proactive approach. As a result, the WHO research and development (R&D) Blueprint was born. (http://www.who.int/blueprint/en/)