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What is ‘Disease X’

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeephttps://www.getcooltricks.com/
Editor at GetCoolTricks.com. Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

Disease X could prove to be more than seven times as deadly as COVID-19

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has created a list of priority diseases that can cause the next global pandemic.

What is Disease X?

According to the WHO website, “represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease”. It could be a new agent – a virus, a bacterium or a fungus – without any known treatments.

Health experts worldwide have cautioned that COVID-19 may be just a precursor to more devastating pandemics in the future.

Dame Kate Bingham, who chaired the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, issued a grim warning that the next pandemic could claim at least 50 million lives, emphasising that the world had been fortunate that COVID-19 was not more lethal.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has dubbed the anticipated next pandemic as “Disease X”, stating that it might already be “on its way”.

“This reason is particularly important, because around three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases originate in animals and then leap from species to species until they can, in certain circumstances, infect human beings.”

Disease X Pandemic

As COVID-19 becomes a more common and recurrent health issue, UK medical specialists are now preparing for a possible new pandemic called “Disease X.” They issue a warning that the terrible Spanish Flu of 1918–1920 may be comparable to the effects of this new virus. The World Health Organization has named this “Disease X Pandemic” and to fight it, vaccinations will once again need to be developed and supplied in a timely manner. However, there is currently no assurance that this will occur.

Danger Of Disease X

The scientists’ warning mirrors the WHO’s prediction of an “inevitable” “Disease X” pandemic. The WHO created the name in 2018, before the COVID-19 epidemic. Among the WHO’s “Blueprint list of priority diseases” for the next lethal pandemic are Ebola, SARS, and Zika.

The WHO declared “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.” The Blueprint list includes infectious disorders without medicinal treatments. Some public health professionals fear the next Disease X will be zoonotic, like Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Covid-19.

Meanwhile, UK scientists have already initiated vaccine development efforts targeting an unidentified ‘Disease X.’ The research, conducted at the high-security Porton Down laboratory complex in Wiltshire, involves over 200 scientists.

Their focus is on animal viruses with the potential to infect humans and spread rapidly worldwide. Among the pathogens under scrutiny are bird flu, monkeypox, and hantavirus, which is transmitted by rodents.

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), stressed that factors such as climate change and population shifts are increasing the likelihood of future pandemics. He emphasized the need for proactive preparedness measures.

Causes of The Next Disease X Pandemic Threat

We’re not sure. However, six virus families the Adenoviridae, Coronaviridae, Orthomyxoviridae, Paramyxoviridae, Picornaviridae, and Poxviridae among the roughly two dozen families that can infect humans possess these characteristics and are thus most likely to be the source of the next pandemic.

  • No immunity – There is no inherent immunity among the global populace.
  • Airborne – Spread via respiratory transmission
  • Silent – Spreadable by sick individuals without symptoms
  • Harmful – There are no current, efficient medications or vaccinations

How To Stop the Next Pandemic Before It Starts?

To prevent the onset of the next pandemic, we need to:

  • Invest in Surveillance: Develop robust global surveillance systems to detect emerging threats early.
  • Promote One Health: Recognize the interconnection of human, animal, and environmental health to identify and mitigate risks.
  • Responsible Antibiotic Use: Implement antimicrobial stewardship to combat drug-resistant pathogens.
  • Strengthen Healthcare Systems: Build capacity in healthcare systems for both pandemic response and routine healthcare needs.
  • Global Cooperation: Foster international collaboration in information sharing, resource allocation, and research efforts.
  • Preparedness Plans: Develop comprehensive pandemic preparedness plans, including stockpiling essential supplies and rapid response teams.

Need For Pandemic Preparedness

Covid-19, which killed 20 million people worldwide, was not the worst-case scenario, according to the authors. They note that the virus killed fewer people than Ebola, avian flu, and MERS. They argue that chance cannot prevent the next pandemic, which might be more lethal and infectious. “Most virus victims recovered. However, 67% of Ebola patients die. At 60%, bird flu is close behind. Even MERS reached 34%. 

The next outbreak cannot be controlled, the author says. They suggest investing in vaccine research and development, strengthening health systems and surveillance, and improving global collaboration and coordination to prepare for pandemics. They claim the next epidemic is coming and the world must be prepared.

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeephttps://www.getcooltricks.com/
Editor at GetCoolTricks.com. Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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