The COVID-19 coronavirus infectious agent now exponentially spreading worldwide seems like a plague from a distant past.

In reality, pandemics have occurred regularly over the last 20 years (the SARS pandemic in 2002-03, the H5N1 bird flu epidemic in 2006-07, the H1N1 swine flu epidemic in 2009, the MERS virus in 2012-15), and, according to leading health experts, we can expect more in the near future.

The irony is that today’s technology might be facilitating the spreading of localized epidemics into worldwide pandemics. Ubiquitous, same-day transportation that carried carriers of the disease from one continent to another in a matter of hours made the rapid spread of COVID-19 inevitable. The first line of defense—containment—really never had a chance.