What is disease X? How scientists are preparing for the next pandemic

Looks like something Elon Musk could have invented: “Disease. In fact, the term was coined several years ago to encourage scientists to work on medical countermeasures. unknown infectious threats (for example, new coronaviruses like the one that causes Covid-19), not just known ones like the Ebola virus. The idea was to stimulate the development of platform technologies, including vaccinedrug therapies and diagnostic tests that could be quickly adapted and implemented in response to a series of future outbreaks with epidemic or pandemic potential.

1. What is “disease X”?

This is a somewhat mysterious name for a disease caused by a serious, although currently unknown, microbial threat. World Health Organization disease added The issue made it onto the agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus joined other health officials to discuss it.

He COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus was an example of the disease triggered a pandemic at the end of 2019. The vast reservoir of viruses circulating in the wild is considered a likely source of new such diseases. This is due to its ability to spread and infect other species, including humans, resulting in an infection to which humans will have no immunity.

2. What is the benefit of studying disease X?

As the WHO says, this “ensure early and comprehensive preparation of R&D, which is also relevant” for an unknown disease. The humanitarian crisis caused by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014-2016 was a wake-up call. Despite decades of research, there were no products ready for use in time to save more than 11,000 lives. In response, the WHO created a research and development plan to speed up the development of various tools to treat “priority diseases.”

  • COVID-19

  • Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever

  • Ebola virus and Marburg virus

  • Lassa fever

  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and SARS

  • Nipah and henipavirus diseases

  • Rift Valley Fever

  • Zika

  • Disease

3. How is research going on the next pandemic?

It took just 326 days from the publication of the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the approval of the first Covid vaccine, thanks in part to work done since 2017 in preparation for the Rapid Response Initiative (CEPI) program. Vaccine platforms that could develop new immunizations within 100 days of a virus with pandemic potential emerging as part of a $3.5 billion plan. Other efforts underway include:

  • Update the International Health Regulations and develop a new global agreement to protect the world from future emergencies.

  • A new fund approved by the World Bank for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

  • The WHO Center for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin aims to speed up access to key data and develop analytical tools and predictive models to assess potential threats.

  • A $5 billion US government initiative to develop next-generation vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 called Project NextGen.

  • $262.5 million to fund a U.S. national network to better identify and respond to public health emergencies.

  • Creation of a global center for the treatment of pandemics.

However, numerous challenges threaten to undermine these efforts, including stretched and weakened health systems, a growing anti-science movement that is fueling vaccine hesitancy, and the likelihood that governments will eventually deprioritize funding for outbreak detection and preparedness as how the perceived risks will disappear.

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