What is Disease X? What does the WHO have to say about this unknown pathogen?

The world is still recovering from the ill effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but here comes another worrisome piece of news for mankind. Disease X is the new thing to worry about, as per the WHO. Read on to know more.
Disease X
Disease X

The world has already faced the havoc of new viruses and pathogens attacking mankind in the last few years. The woes are not over yet. A novel disease, Disease X has been identified as a pathogen. The World Health Organization has warned that unknown pathogens have the potential to cause a severe international epidemic.


In its latest release, the Organization has stated that it is soon going to update a list of priority pathogens that have the ability to cause pandemics and outbreaks across the globe. Disease X will also be a part of this list.


Disease X has been identified as an unknown pathogen that can cause a severe international epidemic.


As per the WHO, both public health criteria, scientific lenses, and criteria associated with socioeconomic impacts, equity, and access, will be taken into consideration for the process. 


The WHO states that the list is being updated to show a path forward to global investments and research and development. The process commenced on Friday. Up till now, over 300 scientists are analyzing the evidence on approximately two dozen virus families and bacteria.


In the year 2017, the list was published for the very first time. The last time such an effort has been taken was in 2018. At present, the current list comprises names like Crimean-Cong, Covid-19, Ebola virus, hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus disease, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Rift Valley fever, Disease X, and Zika.


Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’S Health Emergencies Programme, said that “targeting priority pathogens and virus families for research and development of countermeasures is essential for a fast and effective epidemic and pandemic response. Without significant R&D investments prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it would not have been possible to have safe and effective vaccines developed in record time.” 


Additionally, Dr. Sourmya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist, informed that “This list of priority pathogens has become a reference point for the research community on where to focus energies to manage the next threat,”


The pathogen list after revision is expected to come out in the first quarter of 2023.


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