When the world was still recovering from the unprecedented challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new threat loomed on the horizon, termed Disease X. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, this is a far more deadly disease that has the potential to turn the world upside down. The healthcare professionals in the UK have cautioned that this new virus could have a similar impact as the devastating Spanish Flu of 1918-1920.
Health experts are alarming the world about “Disease X”, a term given by the World Health Organization. They warned this potential new pandemic can result in up to 20 times more casualties than COVID-19, which disastrously claimed the lives of more than 2.5 million people worldwide.
Here is a list of the details about Disease X that you must know
1. Kate Bingham, who chaired the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce from May to December 2020, conveyed her conviction that Disease X is expected to pose a significantly greater threat than COVID-19, in an interview with the Daily Mail.
2. As per expert projections, Disease X has the potential to lead to as many as 50 million fatalities. “Let me put it this way, the 1918-19 flu pandemic claimed a minimum of 50 million lives globally, which was twice the number of casualties in World War I. Today, we could expect a similar level of death toll from one of the several viruses that already exists,” she explained to the Daily Mail.
3. Regarding Disease X, Bingham affirmed that the world will have to prepare itself for extensive vaccination campaigns and administer the doses at record speed.
4. She also revealed that while scientists have discovered 25 virus families, each containing thousands of distinct viruses, she maintains the belief that there are millions of viruses still undiscovered. These viruses hold the potential to undergo evolutionary changes that can lead to pandemics.
5. In a way, we were lucky with COVID-19, even though it resulted in over 20 million deaths globally, but the point is majority of people infected, managed to recover. Now, consider Disease X, if it spreads as easily as measles but with a fatality rate similar to Ebola (67%), it’s only a matter of time before someone starts exhibiting symptoms, somewhere in the world.
6. She emphasizes that urbanization and the destruction of millions of acres of natural habitat each year are contributing to this surge in outbreaks.
7. Around three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases start in animals and can jump from species to species to infect human beings.
8. According to Bingham, immediate actions need to be taken to allocate the necessary financial resources. She also warns that inaction can result in monumental costs.
9. As for Disease X, no vaccines have received official approval yet, but a range of prototype vaccines are essential for effective targeting, emphasizes Bingham.
10. According to Bingham, diverse type of vaccines trigger different immune responses, and as a result, offers different levels of protection.
11. Addressing the global vaccine manufacturing disparities and improving durability, transport, and cost-effectiveness are some of the essential steps forward, says Bingham. Also, incentivizing innovative approaches to vaccine designs may yield more efficient vaccines in the future.