Just when you thought 2021 will be better than last year, enter Disease X.
A woman from the Democratic Republic of the Congo had symptoms of haemorrhagic fever but her test results were tested negative for multiple diseases including Ebola. This led the scientists to think that she may have what qualifies as ‘Disease X.’
As of now, not much is known about this disease which can potentially cause the next pandemic. But before we panic, let’s see what we DO KNOW about it.
1. Is this a newly discovered disease?
Reportedly, Disease X is in no way a newly found disease but is actually a potential disease which is yet to be discovered.
2. What exactly does ‘yet to be discovered’ mean?
To state it simply, Disease X is a term suggested by the WHO back in 2018 as a hypothetical disease having the potential to start another outbreak/pandemic or an epidemic. Disease X literally stands for everything unknown and unexpected.
We are in the race of our lives. #ACTogether #ACTogether #ACTogether pic.twitter.com/OKwAxSN2pV— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 13, 2021
As per reports, WHO commented that:
(The name) represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.
3. Why is it being dubbed as a serious threat when we don’t know anything about it?
To explain this, WHO shared that:
Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease. The R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable early cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown “Disease X.”
Limiting #COVID19 transmission limits the chance of dangerous new variants from developing. We need to:— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) January 11, 2021
-Keep physical distance as much as possible
-Keep rooms well-ventilated
-Keep our hands clean
-Cough away from others into your elbow pic.twitter.com/PLZn1RKZ6B
4. Other than Disease X, what other diseases are a great risk to public health?
WHO shared a list of diseases which have the potential to turn into an outbreak, epidemic, or even a pandemic.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Nipah and henipaviral diseases
Rift Valley fever
5. Why is it in the headline all of a sudden?
Disease X is in news all of a sudden because a woman coming from a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo suffered from the symptoms of haemorrhagic fever. Although she was tested for multiple diseases such as Ebola, her results turned out to be negative for all.
Now the scientists think that the woman could be carrying the new virus of Disease X. Needless to say, this has gotten everyone worried about the next onset of a pandemic.
“This is important not just for #COVID19 but for the future of global health security and to manage emerging disease threats with pandemic potential”-@DrTedros— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 11, 2021
Well, this comes in time because the world has a lot to learn from its past to ensure its future. Ebola, Zika, etc were previously unknown to us so we didn’t prepare ourselves for an outbreak.
And, this is precisely the reason why we need to gear ourselves even before there’s the slightest threat of the next possible pandemic.