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About Everything Wiki » Health » What is disease X and why you should not be afraid of it

What is disease X and why you should not be afraid of it

18 Jan 2024, 00:00, parser
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Is there a new pathogen that causes disease X?

The pathogen has not appeared. "Disease X" is an abstract name for a hypothetical disease that could develop into a global epidemic. And it is also a concept that emphasizes that a new pandemic will come sooner or later and we must be ready for it.

The term first appeared in 2018: then the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed List of Blueprint priority diseases / WHO a methodology for identifying diseases that pose a risk to public health due to epidemic potential. And in order for experts to build a model that can be modified for any case, it was decided to use the name‑plug — "disease X".

There is a lot of news about X's disease now because they are talking about it at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But due to the fact that people have little information about what is happening, some media get confused and talk about an abstract disease as an existing one.

I've seen the news that disease X can take 20 times more lives than covid. It's true?

Since it is unknown what kind of disease it will turn out to be, for the convenience of discussion at the Davos forum, WHO suggests considering as an experiment a situation in which this potentially new pandemic will be caused by a virus 20 times more deadly than covid. So theoretically it could be true. Or maybe not.

It depends on how the pathogen will be transmitted, interact with the immune system and what complications it will cause. Humanity's preparedness for a pandemic will also affect mortality: whether there will be technologies for rapid diagnosis of the disease, the development of vaccines and medicines, as well as whether there will be enough medical staff and hospital beds to help everyone who needs it.

So this disease is not dangerous?

There is no such disease right now. Therefore, it is not dangerous and there is no need to be afraid of it. There is no need to wear masks and gloves due to illness X or drink something for prevention.

But it is important to take the concept seriously: some kind of infection will sooner or later lead to an epidemic. We need to be prepared for the fact that restrictions similar to those during the covid pandemic will reappear. And they will need to be respected. First of all, for your own safety.

Then what is the point of studying disease X?

This is necessary in order to be ready to study the possible cause of the next pandemic. If we launch in-depth studies of existing diseases with high epidemiological potential, then when the epidemic happens, humanity will have a wealth of data about the problem and information on how to deal with it.

How should disease X help us with future pandemics?

Scientists create WHO to identify pathogens that could cause future outbreaks and pandemics / WHO work and research plans. This highlights gaps in knowledge. And it also becomes clear what you need to pay attention to when studying. Due to this, the development of vaccines, treatment methods, diagnostic tests, as well as their clinical trials begin in advance.

Michael Ryan
Executive Director of the WHO Emergency Health Programme.

Targeted research and development WHO to identify pathogens that could cause future outbreaks and pandemics / WHO the antimer in relation to priority pathogens and virus families is an important element of a rapid and effective response to epidemics and pandemics. Without significant investments in research and development (R&D) prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic, it would have been impossible to develop safe and effective vaccines in record time.

One more important thing: WHO is considering in advance what hygienic and ethical standards may be during the next epidemic. This will avoid disputes and disorganization when restrictions need to be imposed.

How are things progressing with the study of a future pandemic?

In response to a request from Lifehacker, WHO representatives said that more than 300 scientists are involved in the study — they are examining in detail 25 families of viruses and bacteria that could potentially provoke a pandemic. The list was last updated in 2018, and now the main "suspects" are considered Prioritizing diseases for research and development in emergency contexts / WHO :

  • Congo‑Crimean hemorrhagic fever virus;
  • Ebola virus;
  • Marburg virus;
  • Lassa fever;
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‑CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS);
  • Nipah virus infection;
  • Rift Valley fever;
  • Zika virus;
  • X's disease

What can be done now to be more prepared for the next pandemic?

Important measures that you can take are: undergo a medical examination to assess your health, update all necessary vaccinations — their list will be individual for each person, depending on age, health status and previous vaccination history.

If you have a medical condition, follow the recommendations of your doctor to reduce the risks. Do not forget to wash your hands regularly. When you get sick, stay at home, and when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable handkerchief or elbow.

There are a few other things you can do to strengthen your immune system, and they are ridiculously familiar. Yes, it is a healthy lifestyle:

  • Give up smoking and alcohol.
  • Follow a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Try to minimize stress.


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