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Throughout history, pathogens have wiped out scores of humans. During the 20th century, there were three global-scale influenza outbreaks, the worst of which killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people, or about 3 to 5 percent of the global population. The HIV virus, which went pandemic in the 1980s, has infected about 70 million people, killing 35 million.

A military hospital during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. (Image: the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., United States)

Several new viruses have since emerged, including SARS, MERS, Ebola, and most recently, Zika. There’s also the grim potential for someone to bioengineer a deadly pathogen in the lab. Advances in gene sequencing and gene-editing technologies are making such nightmare scenarios increasingly plausible. According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this form of bioterrorism could wipe out 30 million people in less than a year.

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Gizmodo

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