No panic. What is “disease X” and why is everyone talking about it?

No panic.  What is “disease X” and why is everyone talking about it?


News about the mysterious “disease X” appeared on the network, the pandemic of which “threatens” the world and will take 20 times more lives than COVID-19.

All because of an announcement on the website of the World Economic Forum, where it was said that at this year’s forum in Davos, Switzerland, experts plan to discuss the challenges associated with a possible pandemic due to “disease X”.

“UP. Life” explains what “disease X” is when people talk about it and why you shouldn’t panic.

For this, we used WHO data, as well as Bloomberg material.

What is “disease X”?

Illustration: ralwel/Depositphotos

“Disease X” is not some mysterious virus that is already spreading and killing millions of people. It’s just a conventional name for a potential infectionwhich could cause a pandemic.

COVID-19 itself, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, became somewhat of an example of “disease X” when it caused a pandemic in late 2019.

The head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, said that the “X” in the name stands for “unexpected”. And this name is not new at all.

In 2017, after the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, the WHO added “disease X” to a short list of pathogens considered a priority for research. From 2014 to 2016, this disease caused 11 thousand deaths.

WHO has decided to update the list of priority pathogens that can cause outbreaks or pandemics to focus on their research. This was especially true in the area of ​​vaccines, tests and treatments.

The organization drew attention to more than 25 families of viruses and bacteria that circulate in the wild and have great epidemic potential.

The current list includes:

  • COVID-19;
  • Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever;
  • Ebola virus disease;
  • Marburg virus disease;
  • Lassa fever;
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV);
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV),
  • Nipah fever and other henipaviruses;
  • Rift Valley fever;
  • Zika fever;
  • and “disease X”.

These are diseases that “pose a risk to public health because of their epidemic potential and against which there are no or insufficient countermeasures.”

But unlike the other diseases on the list, “disease X” is not an existing pathogen is a medical metaphor.

The WHO has identified priority areas for research and “precautionary measures” for the disease, which is not yet known or is not widespread among humans.

Why is everyone talking about “disease X”?

Illustrative photo: jayzynism/Depositphotos

On January 17, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, speakers plan to discuss how to prepare the health care system for new challenges, such as potential pandemics.

WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus, member of the executive committee of the World Economic Forum in Geneva Shyam Bishen and other top officials and researchers will take part in the discussion.

The announcement of the discussion was published on the website of the forum, and then the information was spread by a number of mass media.

“What efforts are needed to prepare health systems for the many challenges ahead, given new WHO warnings that an unknown ‘disease X’ could kill 20 times more than the coronavirus pandemic?” – said the original message.

The mysterious name “disease X” and the number “20 times more deaths” made dozens of headlines.

Supporters of conspiracy theories began to spread myths about “artificially created covid” or plans of governments to “restrict freedom” with quarantines. However, all these statements are baseless.

Should we be afraid of “disease X”?

No. “Disease X” is a conventional designation of future threats for which medicine is preparing.

This training is needed to ensure early readiness for interdisciplinary research and development in the event of an unknown disease, says the WHO.

Similar preparation allowed medics to make the first vaccine against the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in less than a year.

Doctors are simply preparing for possible epidemic risks in the future, so there is no need to be afraid.

We will remind you that earlier we explained how to protect yourself from hepatitis A during an outbreak of the disease.

Read also: Monkey pox: symptoms, ways of transmission and prevention



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