WHO Warns of Disease X: Potential Future Pandemic Raises Concerns Beyond Covid-19

Omicron subvariants virus

The global state of emergency due to Covid-19 has been officially lifted, but the World Health Organization (WHO) now raises concerns about the emergence of a potential new threat called ‘Disease X,’ which has the potential to trigger a more devastating pandemic.

Disease X is described by the WHO as a hypothetical scenario where a serious international outbreak could arise from an unknown pathogen that causes severe illness in humans. This concept was introduced in 2018 and has been included in the WHO’s list of priority diseases.

During the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a stark warning, emphasizing the ongoing risks despite the end of the Covid-19 emergency: “The threat of the emergence of another variant that causes a new wave of disease and death remains, and the threat of the emergence of other pathogens with even greater lethal potential remains.”

This highlights the need for proactive planning and preparedness to confront potential future outbreaks that could have catastrophic consequences.

Disease X represents a category of unidentified diseases with the potential to evolve into destructive epidemics in the future. It serves as a placeholder term by the WHO for diseases arising from human infections that have not been specifically identified through medical research. Previously, Disease X held prominence until the Covid-19 pandemic took center stage as the disease causing a global health crisis.

When a new epidemic is discovered, the designation ‘Disease X’ will be replaced by a more specific name for the particular disease. Although limited information is available regarding Disease X, there are suspicions that it shares some characteristics with the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19.

These shared traits may include symptoms such as high fever, cough, and respiratory failure. It is believed that Disease X could potentially be an RNA virus, with ribonucleic acid as its genetic material.

As part of the global health community’s preparedness efforts, the WHO’s call for vigilance extends beyond Covid-19. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the necessity to anticipate and mitigate the risks of future pandemics, asserting that they could pose even greater threats than the current crisis.

The end of the global health emergency status for Covid-19 does not signify the end of potential dangers; rather, it underscores the need for continued readiness and resilience against the emergence of new pathogens that could have devastating consequences for global health and wellbeing.