Disease X is once again grabbing headlines, as a UK health expert issues a warning that it has the potential to trigger another pandemic on the scale of Covid-19, potentially claiming the lives of millions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also taken notice of this mysterious ailment, placing Disease X in the category of “priority diseases” on its official website. This global health organization has grouped this enigmatic disease alongside other deadly pathogens like Covid-19, Ebola, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Nipah, and Zika, all of which have previously caused significant fatalities during outbreaks.
What is Disease X?
According to the WHO website, the term “Disease X” represents the understanding that a severe international epidemic could potentially be triggered by a pathogen that is currently unidentified as a cause of human disease. This pathogen could be a novel agent, such as a virus, bacterium, or fungus, for which there are currently no known treatments or countermeasures in place.
Is this a New Disease?
The Lancet reported that WHO officially introduced the term “Disease X” in 2018 to signify the potential emergence of an unknown disease with epidemic capabilities. Experts have stressed the need for research aimed at identifying the next pathogen that could potentially trigger another pandemic.
WHO’s R&D Blueprint
The World Health Organization is collaborating with scientists to create a customizable vaccine formula. In the event of an outbreak, they can analyze the unique genetic makeup of the disease-causing virus and integrate the correct genetic sequence into a pre-established platform to swiftly develop a new vaccine.
The inception of the R&D Blueprint can be traced back to the Ebola emergency that struck West Africa in March 2014.
Others that could Create Pandemics
In August, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced its monitoring of a new, highly mutated lineage of the virus responsible for causing Covid-19.
This lineage is identified as BA.2.86 and has been observed in several countries, including the United States, Denmark, and Israel, according to the CDC.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already designated BA.2.86 as a “variant under monitoring” due to its significant number of mutations.