The World Health Organisation warn of deadly ‘Disease X’.
Scientists have given a stark warning to the world, that the next pandemic could be just around the corner.
Simply known as ‘Disease X’, it represents the very real threat of a natural, or man made killer. Each year the WHO release a list of diseases that are likely to a cause severe outbreak.
They have warned that the world is extremely vulnerable to a new pandemic, as we are not adequately prepared.
In recent years we have seen serious outbreaks of Ebola, SARS, and the Zika virus, as well as several deadly flu epidemics. Each time the world is gripped by one of these threats, it spreads fast. Scientists warn that this is because not enough is being done to prevent outbreaks, despite us having the knowledge to do so.
John-Arne Rottingen, a Norwegian scientists who works for the WHO said:
“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”
“It may seem strange to be adding an ‘X’ but the point is to make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests,”
He said that the world should be prepared for the unexpected, and that the new disease will likely be “something we have not seen before”.
Global pandemics are sadly a more frequent occurrence, and they are more likely to hit hardest in poorer countries. A better health infrastructure means better treatment when epidemics do hit, but many places in the world suffer from poor healthcare.
Scientists say that it is impossible to tell if disease X will be natural or man made. In recent years we have seen equal amounts of public health crises created both by nature and by man.
The civil war in Syria has seen an increase in biological weapons being used against civilians. Mr Rottingen stated how dangerous man-made diseases are as humans have had no time to build a defense against them.
“Synthetic biology allows for the creation of deadly new viruses. It is also the case that where you have a new disease there is no resistance in the population and that means it can spread fast.”
WHO adviser Professor Marion Koopmans said:
“The intensity of animal and human contact is becoming much greater as the world develops. This makes it more likely new diseases will emerge but also modern travel and trade make it much more likely they will spread,”