Title: Global research trends of World Health Organization’s top eight emerging pathogens
Author: Waleed M. Sweileh
Background: On December 8th, 2015, World Health Organization published a priority list of eight pathogens expected to cause severe outbreaks in the near future. To better understand global research trends and characteristics of publications on these emerging pathogens, we carried out this bibliometric study hoping to contribute to global awareness and preparedness toward this topic.
Method: Scopus database was searched for the following pathogens/infectious diseases: Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, Rift valley, Crimean-Congo, Nipah, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Severe Respiratory Acute Syndrome (SARS). Retrieved articles were analyzed to obtain standard bibliometric indicators.
Results: A total of 8619 journal articles were retrieved. Authors from 154 different countries contributed to publishing these articles. Two peaks of publications, an early one for SARS and a late one for Ebola, were observed. Retrieved articles received a total of 221,606 citations with a mean ± standard deviation of 25.7 ± 65.4 citations per article and an h-index of 173. International collaboration was as high as 86.9%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the highest share (344; 5.0%) followed by the University of Hong Kong with 305 (4.5%). The top leading journal was Journal of Virology with 572 (6.6%) articles while Feldmann, Heinz R. was the most productive researcher with 197 (2.3%) articles. China ranked first on SARS, Turkey ranked first on Crimean-Congo fever, while the United States of America ranked first on the remaining six diseases. Of retrieved articles, 472 (5.5%) were on vaccine – related research with Ebola vaccine being most studied.
Conclusion: Number of publications on studied pathogens showed sudden dramatic rise in the past two decades representing severe global outbreaks. Contribution of a large number of different countries and the relatively high h-index are indicative of how international collaboration can create common health agenda among distant different countries.
This timespace follows the World Health Organization's situation reports regarding the COVID-19 outbreak that started in Hubei, China, in January 2020. Cover photograph taken in Japan by Jérémy Stenuit.