What is Mystery ‘Disease X’ and Why Will it Be Discussed at Davos 2024? Here is What We Know

WHO panel is set to discuss the ‘Disease X’ as a looming health concern at Davos 2024 meet.

What is Mystery ‘Disease X’ and Why Will it Be Discussed at Davos 2024? Here is What We Know (Freepik)

In a time when the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic already has left the world in anxiety, the detection of new health conditions only sounds more alarm bells. Speaking of pandemic, a panel from The World Health Organisation (WHO) will be discussing the mysterious “Disease X” at the World Economic Forum -Davos 2024. It is a term that was coined by WHO to refer to a hypothetical, unknown disease that could cause a future epidemic or pandemic. The purpose of using the term “Disease X” is to emphasise the need for preparedness and research in order to be ready for any new infectious disease that may emerge in the future.

What is Disease X?

Disease X is not a specific disease itself and hence is associated as a mysterious illness that can be of a potential microbial threat. This term represents the concept of an unknown disease with the potential to cause widespread illness and death.

According to a report by Bloomberg, “The World Health Organization added Disease X in 2017 to a short list of pathogens deemed a top priority for research, alongside known killers like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Ebola.Covid-19, caused by a novel coronavirus, was an example of a Disease X when it touched off the pandemic at the end of 2019. The vast reservoir of viruses circulating in wildlife is seen as a likely source of more such diseases. That’s because of their potential to spill over and infect other species, including humans, giving rise to an infection against which people will have no immunity.”

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The concept of Disease X highlights the importance of preparedness and research. It serves as a reminder that new infectious diseases can emerge unexpectedly, and global health organisations and governments need to be ready to respond effectively.

Many emerging infectious diseases have a zoonotic origin, meaning they are transmitted from animals to humans. Examples include the H5N1 avian influenza, the Ebola virus, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Disease X could potentially arise in a similar manner.

To be prepared for Disease X or any other future disease, continuous research and surveillance are crucial. This includes monitoring animal populations, identifying new pathogens, understanding their transmission dynamics, and developing strategies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Disease X highlights the importance of global collaboration in addressing emerging diseases. International cooperation, data sharing, and coordinated response efforts are essential to effectively control and mitigate the impact of any future pandemic.

It’s worth noting that Disease X is a hypothetical concept and not an actual disease that has been identified or discovered. The term serves as a reminder of the ongoing need to invest in public health infrastructure, research, and preparedness to mitigate the impact of future infectious disease outbreaks.



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