World leaders are set to meet this week to talk out concerns about the potential for a future pandemic that could cause 20 times more fatalities than Covid.
A panel led by World Health Organization chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Gehreyesus will debate ‘novel efforts needed to prepare healthcare systems for the multiple challenges ahead’ at a session called ‘Preparing for Disease X’ at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Disease X represents a hypothetical, currently unknown pathogen. It was added to the WHO’s list of nine priority diseases in 2018.
Dr Gehreyesus will be joined on Wednesday by Michel Demaré, chair of the board of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, Brazilian health minister Nisia Trindade Lima, Royal Philips CEO Roy Jakobs, Indian hospital chain Apollo’s executive vice-chairperson Preetha Reddy and Shyam Bishen, head of the center for health and healthcare and member of the World Economic Forum’s executive committee.
In its list of priority diseases, 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.’
The UN agency ranks Disease X alongside Covid-19, Ebola, Zika virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).
Experts do not yet know what type of virus will trigger the next pandemic, but scientists have warned for decades that bird flu is the most likely contender.
Researchers say this is because of the threat of recombination — with high levels of human flu raising the risk of a human becoming co-infected with avian flu as well.
Others have long speculated Disease X would more generally come from zoonotic transmission — an animal virus or bacteria that jumps to humans.
Some have even warned Disease X could be sparked by a biological mutation, an accident or a terror attack that catches the world by surprise and spreads fast.
See full article from The Daily Mail.