The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday emphasized the urgent need for global preparedness against a potential new pandemic, referred to as ‘Disease X’. WHO’s Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus urged countries worldwide to come together and sign a ‘pandemic treaty’ to tackle the deadly Disease X, which could be 20 times deadlier than COVID-19, reported Fox News.
Mr Ghebreyesus, speaking in front of an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said that he hoped countries would reach a pandemic agreement by May to address this “common enemy.”
”There are things that are unknown that may happen, and anything happening is a matter of when, not if, so we need to have a placeholder for that, for the diseases we don’t know,” Mr Ghebreyesus said.
“We lost many people [during COVID] because we couldn’t manage them. They could have been saved, but there was no space. There was not enough oxygen. So how can you have a system that can expand when the need comes?”, he added.
He further said that the WHO has already started implementing measures to prepare for another outbreak including the establishment of a pandemic fund and the creation of a ”technology transfer hub” in South Africa.
”Equity. It was a serious problem. Many high-income countries were hoarding vaccines. To address the equity problem, we established the mRNA technology transfer hub in South Africa. This is to increase the local production…,” he explained.
What is Disease X?
Disease X is not a specific disease but is the name of a potential virus similar to COVID-19. It could be a new agent, a virus, a bacterium, or a fungus without any known treatment. The global health body has categorised the unknown disease among Covid-19, Ebola, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Nipah, and Zika, which have already caused widespread fatalities during outbreaks.
The Lancet said that the WHO formally started using the term in 2018, which represents the next unknown disease of epidemic potential.
A WHO report from November 2022 mentions that Disease X is included to indicate an unknown pathogen that could cause a serious international epidemic. According to WHO, worldwide, the number of potential pathogens is very large, while the resources for disease research and development (R&D) are limited.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)