Experts Warn of 'Disease X' as a Potential Deadlier Pandemic

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In a recent report, COVID experts have raised concerns about the existence of 'Disease X,' an undisclosed pathogen that could unleash a deadlier pandemic. Disease X is listed among the World Health Organization's priority diseases and represents a yet-to-be-identified pathogen capable of causing human infections.

The emergence of Disease X, whether it be a novel virus, bacterium, fungus, or another entity, presents a significant challenge due to the lack of available vaccines or treatments. Dr. Richard Hatchett, from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, emphasized the need to prepare for this scenario, stating, "This isn't the stuff of science fiction. This is a scenario we have to prepare for. This is Disease X."

The term Disease X was introduced by the WHO in 2018, and its relevance became evident with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak served as a stark reminder of the potential for Disease X to materialize into a global health crisis.

Dr. Pranab Chatterjee, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, warned that a Disease X event could be just around the corner. Recent cases of H5N1 bird flu in Cambodia serve as examples of potential outbreaks.

Experts believe that Disease X is likely to have zoonotic origins, meaning it originates in wildlife or domesticated animals before crossing over to infect humans. Past outbreaks such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19 have demonstrated the zoonotic nature of diseases. However, it is essential to recognize that diseases can also originate from alternative sources, including the potential threat of a pandemic triggered by bioterrorism.

The possibility of an engineered pandemic pathogen, whether through laboratory accidents or bioterrorism, cannot be ignored. The release of such pathogens could lead to a catastrophic Disease X, posing a global risk.

As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the existence of Disease X serves as a reminder of the importance of preparedness and the need for continued research and vigilance in identifying and addressing emerging infectious diseases.

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