Disease X: Kate Bingham, UK health expert mentioned that scientists have identified 25 virus families
Disease X can cause another pandemic deadlier than Covid-19, said a UK health expert. In an interview with Daily Mail, Kate Bingham, who chaired the UK's vaccine taskforce from May to December 2020 said that the new virus can be as devastating as the Spanish Flu (1919-1920). The nature of the disease remains unclear.
What is Disease X?
According to the World Health Organisation, Disease X could be a new agent, a virus, a bacterium or a fungus without any known treatment.
A WHO report from November 2022 mentions that Disease X is included to indicate an unknown pathogen that could cause a serious international epidemic.
History of Disease X?
WHO mentioned Disease X for the first time in 2018 as an unknown disease that has epidemic potential.
"Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease. The R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable early cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown Disease X," WHO's official website mentions.
What are the recent findings?
In the interview, the UK health expert shared a few insights on Disease X:
- "Let me put it this way: the 1918-19 flu pandemic killed at least 50 million people worldwide, twice as many as were killed in World War I. Today, we could expect a similar death toll from one of the many viruses that already exist," Ms Binghman mentioned.
- The UK health expert further mentioned that scientists have identified 25 virus families and there could be one million undiscovered variants, which can move from one species to another.
- She also highlighted that the majority of Covid-19 patients recovered. "...Imagine Disease X is as infectious as measles with the fatality rate of Ebola. Somewhere in the world, it's replicating, and sooner or later, somebody will start feeling sick."
- "The increase in outbreaks is the price we're having to pay for living in the modern world. First, it's increasingly connected through globalisation. Second, more and more people are cramming into cities, where they often come into close contact with others," Ms Bingham added.
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