Srinagar, Jan 05: In the 2018 Global plan for accelerating research and development, WHO mentioned ‘Disease X’ on the priority list. According to WHO, X ‘represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease’.
The list includes Covid-19, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah and henipaviral disease, Rift Valley fever, Zika and the latest addition ‘Disease X’.
Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976, warns of a number of unknown, new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from the Africa’s tropical rainforests.
Talking to CNN, he said, ‘We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out and that’s what constitutes a threat to humanity’.
Scientists have given out this warning after a woman in a remote town in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) came down with hemorrhagic fever. She got tested for Ebola as well as other similar diseases and call the tests were negative.
Researchers fear if she could be patient zero for ‘Disease X’, a new pathogen that could affect the world as fast as covid and will have a fatality rate of 50-90%, similar to Ebola.
Talking to CNN, Muyembe warns of many more zoonotic diseases and of future pandemics that could be more apocalyptic.
Experts say that a rise in new viruses and diseases is a result of ecological destruction. Heavy human incursions into natural habitats of other organisms result in spreading of viruses that animals carry and if we keep on destroying nature there is worse to come.