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Expert's alarming warning! Disease X poses threat deadlier than Covid-19; could kill 50 million people

In an alarming revelation, health expert Kate Bingham warns of Disease X, an unknown pathogen that could trigger a pandemic deadlier than COVID-19, highlighting the need for global preparedness and rapid vaccination efforts.

Health expert's alarming warning: Disease X poses threat deadlier than Covid-19; could kill 50 million people snt
First Published Sep 26, 2023, 1:33 PM IST

UK health expert Kate Bingham has issued a warning about Disease X, a term coined by the World Health Organization (WHO), suggesting that it could potentially lead to a more deadly pandemic than COVID-19. Bingham, who chaired the UK's Vaccine Taskforce from May to December 2020, expressed her concerns in an interview with the Daily Mail. She likened the potential impact of Disease X to the devastating Spanish Flu of 1919-1920. According to WHO, Disease X represents the threat of a new, unknown pathogen, be it a virus, bacterium, or fungus, for which there are no known treatments.

Bingham emphasized the severity of the threat posed by Disease X, stating, "The 1918-19 flu pandemic killed at least 50 million people worldwide, twice as many as were killed in World War I. Today, we could expect a similar death toll from one of the many viruses that already exist."

To combat the potential threat of Disease X, Bingham stressed the need for global preparedness, including mass vaccination campaigns delivered at an unprecedented pace.

The expert also pointed out that scientists have identified 25 virus families, but there could be over one million undiscovered variants capable of crossing species boundaries.

Bingham highlighted the relative fortune of dealing with COVID-19, despite its significant global impact. She underscored the importance of preparing for a highly infectious pathogen with the lethality of diseases like Ebola. She stated, "Imagine Disease X is as infectious as measles with the fatality rate of Ebola. Somewhere in the world, it's replicating, and sooner or later, somebody will start feeling sick."

Ebola, with its high fatality rate of approximately 67 percent, along with other deadly diseases like bird flu and MERS, serve as reminders that the next pandemic may not be easily contained.

Bingham attributed the rising number of pandemics to various factors. She explained that globalization has connected the world more closely, and urbanization has led to higher population densities, increasing the likelihood of disease transmission.

Moreover, the encroachment on natural habitats through deforestation, modern agricultural practices, and wetland destruction has facilitated the transmission of viruses from one species to another.

The WHO introduced the concept of Disease X on its website in May, describing it as the potential for a severe international epidemic caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease. This term was introduced in 2018, and just a year later, COVID-19 began its global spread.

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