Healthcare professionals are now bracing themselves for a potential new global health crisis known as Disease X, as the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dame Kate Bingham, who chaired the UK's Vaccine Taskforce, has raised alarm bells by suggesting that Disease X could be far deadlier than COVID-19 and might already be on the horizon.
This looming threat has been officially named Disease X by the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to Dame Kate Bingham, Disease X could have a fatality rate as high as 67%, which is significantly higher than that of COVID-19.
She warned that the world must prepare for mass vaccination drives to combat this potential threat.
Healthcare experts are deeply concerned about Disease X because it has the potential to cause large-scale, serious pandemics, similar to the devastating impact of the Spanish Flu in the early 20th century.
Dr. Neha Rastogi, a Consultant in infectious diseases at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, explains that Disease X refers to a pathogen, either known or potentially unknown, that could lead to widespread and severe human diseases.
The origins of Disease X are still largely speculative, but it is believed to be related to zoonotic diseases, likely RNA viruses, originating in environments that favor sustained transmission.
There are concerns about Disease X being engineered for bioterrorism or accidentally escaping from laboratories, making it a potential global catastrophic risk.
Preventive measures against Disease X include international guidelines for controlling bioterrorism, strict airport screening, global collaboration among leaders, scientists, epidemiologists, and infectious disease experts.
Accelerating research on vaccines and adopting a One Health approach, which focuses on bridging institutional gaps and addressing priority risk pathogens, are also crucial steps to mitigate the threat of Disease X.
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