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. 

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.”

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
Lassa fever
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Nipah and henipaviral diseases
Rift Valley fever

DNA India

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. 

Retuers/ India Today

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. 

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. 

T. Narayan/Bloomberg/ Bloomberg Quint

And, this is precisely the reason why we need to gear ourselves even before there’s the slightest threat of the next possible pandemic.