The World Health Organization (WHO) announced at a press conference July 5 that the last known case of human severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was detected and isolated in Taiwan on June 15—more than two incubation periods ago.

But even Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland admitted that the disease may return and that a great deal of work is needed to understand it.

The scale of the task is now becoming clear. Speaking to The Scientist from Beijing, Klaus Stöhr, who put together the WHO laboratory network that identified the SARS coronavirus, outlined WHO's public health research priorities before the winter flu season.

"First, we have to understand if there is a potent risk for the disease to reemerge from an animal reservoir," said Stöhr.

"Second, we have to invest every resource we have into the development of rapid diagnostic tests, to work in the hospital, and quickly distinguish between SARS...

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