The World Health Organization (WHO) has added a so-called Disease X to its list of maladies that could potentially harm humanity and cause an epidemic of global proportions, despite the fact scientists haven’t even discovered it yet. The unknown disease could be as harmful as some diseases that spread terror across the world decades and centuries ago, before modern medicine techniques appeared and fought diseases that were thought to be incurable.
According to the statement on WHO’s website, this mysterious malady that doesn’t exist yet is supposed to be a “known unknown,” meaning that it is something that could come out of a biological mutation in the future. Now that WHO has added Disease X to the list, the mysterious and potentially world-wide dangerous virus accompanies the Ebola virus, Respiratory Syndrome (SARS,) Zika virus and Rift Valley Fever (RVF0,) following an annual review by WHO.
“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease,” WHO said on its website.
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It’s still unclear how this disease could spread and cause an epidemic or even come into existence. However, WHO suggests that it could be the result of biological warfare or if a virus similar to the “Spanish flu” spread across the world suddenly. The Spanish flu spread across large parts of the globe. It is believed to have killed at least 40 million people between 1918 and 1919.
However, this is not the only disease that could potentially pose danger in the future. WHO also wanted to add other diseases to its list of global threats. The organization put arenaviral hemorrhagic fevers, Chikungunya- a disease which spreads to humans by infected mosquitoes, and highly pathogenic coronaviral diseases into consideration.
“These diseases pose major public health risks and further research and development is needed, including surveillance and diagnostics,” WHO said. “They should be watched carefully and considered again at the next annual review.”
WHO’s Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint list has a goal to find and sequence diseases which could turn out to carry health risks to humanity globally, as those diseases have a potential for spreading an epidemic. Moreover, at the moment, for those diseases there are no countermeasures which could sufficiently contribute to people fending off the diseases.
The organization first revealed its list of prioritized diseases back in December 2015. However, the new, yet non-existent, Disease X was added to the organization’s list after an annual review which occurred on Feb. 6 and 7. The organization also wrote a warning for an “urgent need” that accelerated research and development for the diseases contained on the list.
“Necessary research includes basic/fundamental and characterization research as well as epidemiological, entomological or multidisciplinary studies, or further elucidation of transmission routes, as well as social science research.” It says on the website. “There is a need to assess the value, where possible, of developing countermeasures for multiple diseases or for families of pathogens.”