In 2019, 1 in 4 deaths was caused by infectious diseases. In addition to the big 3 – HIV, malaria and tuberculosis – these diseases are mainly respiratory infections, infectious diarrhoea and sepsis. The burden of disease caused by infections also remains high in the Netherlands. This could still get worse because of several factors: ageing, ‘vaccination doubts’, increased use of immunosuppressive drugs, increased mobility of people and globalisation of food chains. Global warming also affects the spread of pathogens and disease vectors. Pathogens have an impressive ability to adapt and, for example, to develop resistance to antimicrobial agents. In order to cope with these threats, we would do well to consider the emergence of new infectious diseases as well as the threat of old ones. What can we learn from decades past? Why do new infections keep emerging? What does the future look like?
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.