Healthcare professionals are now shifting their focus to prepare for a potential new pandemic known as Disease X. Dame Kate Bingham, who chaired the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce, has warned that this new pandemic could be 20 times deadlier than COVID-19. Bingham referred to Disease X as an infectious pathogen with a fatality rate as high as Ebola.
While COVID-19 has had a significant impact on global health, Disease X poses an even greater threat. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Disease X as a pathogen, known or potentially unknown, that can cause a large-scale pandemic with widespread human disease. It is believed to be caused by a yet-to-be-discovered pathogen dubbed “pathogen X.” This pathogen is likely to be a zoonotic disease, possibly an RNA virus, emerging from an environment that favors sustained transmission.
There is concern that Disease X could be the result of accidental laboratory incidents or even an act of bioterrorism. As a potential global catastrophic risk, preventing Disease X requires intense and ongoing surveillance and monitoring. To combat the spread of pathogen X, containment and mitigation strategies involve the development and implementation of international guidelines to control bioterrorism.
Healthcare professionals stress the importance of immediate travel restrictions and strict airport screening to contain the spread of Disease X across borders. Collaboration between global leaders, scientists, epidemiologists, and infectious disease experts is crucial for investigating, controlling, and eliminating this potential pandemic.
In terms of prevention, widespread testing, surveillance, and aggressive contact tracing are seen as effective tools in containing outbreak-like situations. Accelerating the development and availability of medical measures such as test kits, vaccines, and first aid are also essential. Additionally, research on preventive measures, particularly the development and process of vaccines, should receive heightened priorities.
To prevent global catastrophes like Disease X, experts advocate for a One Health approach. This approach bridges institutional gaps, identifies and prioritizes high-risk pathogens, and emphasizes mitigation strategies for emerging and re-emerging pathogens. By prioritizing these measures, healthcare professionals aim to prevent future pandemics on a global scale.
– Daily Mail
– World Health Organization (WHO)
– Dr. Neha Rastogi, Consultant, infectious disease, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram