‘Disease X’ poses threat of a deadlier pandemic, warn COVID experts


“Disease X,” an undisclosed pathogen with the potential to unleash a deadlier pandemic, resides among the World Health Organization’s roster of “priority diseases,” NY Post reported.

Experts warn Disease X could be cause deadlier pandemic and warn people to prepare for it

This enigmatic term denotes a disease that has yet to be identified by the medical community as a cause of human infections. As a novel pathogen—be it a virus, bacterium, fungus, or other entity—its emergence poses a considerable challenge, with the absence of readily available vaccines or treatments.

“This isn’t the stuff of science fiction,” Dr. Richard Hatchett, of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, told the Telegraph. “This is a scenario we have to prepare for. This is Disease X.”

In 2018, the WHO introduced the term Disease X to its lexicon. Approximately a year after its inception, the global community bore witness to the outbreak of a novel virus, COVID-19, which swiftly transformed into a catastrophic pandemic. This event served as a stark realization that Disease X had indeed materialized.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that there is potential of a Disease X event just around the corner,” Dr. Pranab Chatterjee, a researcher at the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told the National Post.

“The recent spate of H5N1 bird flu cases in Cambodia is just a case in point,” Chatterjee added.

Zoonotic origins and the looming threat: Disease X as the next pandemic

According to certain public health specialists, the forthcoming Disease X is anticipated to be zoonotic in nature, implying its origin in wildlife or domesticated animals before crossing over to infect human populations. Past occurrences such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19 exemplify zoonotic outbreaks.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that diseases can stem from alternative sources as well, including the potential threat of a pandemic triggered by bioterrorism.

“The possibility of an engineered pandemic pathogen also cannot be ignored,” said the authors of a 2021 article in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

“The release of such pathogens, either through laboratory accidents or as an act of bioterrorism, might lead to a disastrous Disease X as well and has been remarked as a global catastrophic risk,” the authors added.


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