Health specialists around the world are now cautious about a potential health threat referred to as ‘Disease X,’ as the next global pandemic. The disease is spreading in the UK rapidly and creating an alarming situation among doctors, they warned if proper precautionary measures are not followed then it may kill around a million people like COVID-19. The experts stated that COVID-19 is just a presentation of what the world can feel in the upcoming years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also contemplated the issue and added the disease to its priority list. The Global Organisation for Health Measures classifies ‘Disease X’ into the categories of Nipah, Zika, COVID-19, Ebola, Lassa fever, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which have already scared the world.
What is Disease X?
It is probably and likely to be caused by pathogen X. It may be associated with a zoonosis, possibly an RNA virus originating in an area where transmission is facilitated by the epidemiological triad – environmental host. These emerging/re-emerging z-pathogens can be marked with an X and represent a threat that requires intensive and continuous active monitoring and surveillance.
How to Prevent?
Isolation and mitigation strategies include the development and implementation of consistent international guidelines for containing bioterrorism. Immediate and appropriate travel restrictions, including strict airport controls, must be implemented to prevent the spread of Pathogen X across borders. It also requires the cooperation of global leaders, scientists, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts to investigate, control and eliminate Disease X. Extensive and mass testing, surveillance and aggressive contact tracing are potentially effective tools for timely containment of outbreak situations.
In response to the threat of Disease X, scientists in the UK launched the development of vaccines targeting this unknown but potentially deadly pathogen. More than 200 scientists are involved in this research, which is being carried out at the Porton Down high-security laboratory complex in Wiltshire. They are also focusing on research, primarily on zoonotic pathogens, and animal viruses that can infect humans and spread rapidly around the world. Pathogens under consideration include bird flu, monkeypox, and rodent-borne hantavirus.