Disease X. The world is preparing for a pandemic of a disease worse than covid, it’s not science fiction

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A new global epidemic, which can easily be many times worse than, for example, the Covid-19 pandemic. This is exactly what medical scientists around the planet and the World Health Organization WHO are preparing for. It bears the designation of disease X.

Experts around the world are preparing for the new Disease X.

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The term disease X was coined several years ago. Although this disease does not yet exist as such, and that is why it is marked with the letter X, it is necessary to fight against it preventively now. At least according to the World Health Organization WHO. All this, so that the situation does not turn into a mass epidemic, which, like in the past, would kill up to tens of millions of people.

Why is disease X a threat?

There are currently a large number of pathogens that are a potential threat to public health due to their ability to cause an epidemic. Disease X is part of the list of such infections and is considered worse than Covid-19, which recently caused major restrictions across the globe.

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“Disease X also represents the insight that a serious international epidemic can be caused by a pathogen that is not currently known to cause such a widespread disease,” the scientific team led by Sumitaksh Banerjee quotes in their study – Disease-X: Counting the Unknown. He posted it on the National Library of Medicine website.

Who is supposed to be the cause of disease X?

If anyone is the most serious contender for disease X, it’s coronaviruses. “This large group of viruses has long been considered a prime contender for creating a new pandemic. And that was even before the outbreak of covid-19,” said the specialized science website New Scientist.

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This is because the new coronavirus causing the disease Covid – 19 was not the first dangerous pathogen from this group. As New Scientist recalled, in 2002 another coronavirus began to spread in China. It caused a severe form of pneumonia called SARS, which killed one in ten infected. Occasionally there is an outbreak of another coronavirus called MERS, which causes pneumonia. In this case, a third of the infected succumbed.

However, recent research suggests that it is now harder for viruses related to SARS and MERS to cause a new pandemic.

“That’s because almost everyone in the world now has antibodies against the virus that causes Covid-19. This now appears to provide at least partial protection against most other pathogens in the coronavirus family,” the New Scientist website notes.

It is also positive that Covid-19 has contributed to the expansion of research into the production of new, especially modern, so-called mRNA vaccines.

Where could Disease X spread to the world from?

Disease X can spread into the world from virtually anywhere. However, there are places on the planet where this is more likely.

“These are sites in Asia and Africa where there is a lot of human-animal interaction,” Amesh Adalja, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Public Health.

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He added that without proper preparation, the new infection could kill more people than Covid-19. According to the WHO, more than 7 million people succumbed to it.

“If we did this badly with something like Covid-19, you can imagine how badly we would do with something like a 1918-level event,” US news site CBS News quoted scientist Adalja as saying, referring to the Spanish flu pandemic from 1918. It killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

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What are the other giant global pandemics? For example, the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia summarizes them:

  • Antonine Plague165–168 AD Smallpox on the Apennine Peninsula killed up to 5 million people, a quarter of those infected died.
  • Plague of Justinian, 541–750 AD The plague spread from Ethiopia to all of Europe and Asia. It killed 25–50 million people.
  • black Death, 1347–1353. A plague spread throughout Eurasia, killing approximately 75 million people.
  • Asian flu, 1957–1958. The pandemic emerged in southern China. Probably when human and bird flu viruses attacked pigs at the same time and, after exchanging genes, created a new deadly virus. At least a million people died.
  • Hong Kong flu, 1968–1969. Human and bird flu viruses have created a new virus that was first recorded in Hong Kong. Because the virus was somewhat similar to the 1957 virus, people were partially immune to it and the death toll was lower. He killed roughly 750,000 people.

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What can be done about disease X now?

A scientific team led by an expert named Muhammad Junaid Tahi summarized what can now be done against Disease X in their work Disease X: A Hidden But Inevitable Creeping Danger. These include, among others, the following measures:

  • Establish international guidelines for the control of bioterrorism. Bioterrorist attacks could also result in an epidemic, for example if viruses such as Ebola were used as biological agents.
  • Defects should be addressed to experts as soon as possible, regardless of their political ambitions and circumstances.
  • To prevent the spread of pathogen X across borders, appropriate control measures need to be in place, particularly at airports.
  • In order to prevent the possible release of a new virus, active surveillance of laboratories investigating viruses is necessary.

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“Since medical researchers have no idea what the new health threat will be, we may also run into a lack of any treatments or vaccines. This is not science fiction,” The Economist Times website quoted renowned expert Richard Hatchett as saying.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Disease world preparing pandemic disease worse covid science fiction

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