WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The World Health Organization has just added a mysterious virus, “Disease X” to a list of nine diseases that may cause a global pandemic.
- It is not a newly identified deadly virus but an existing pathogen that could be created by biological mutation like past killer epidemics including the Spanish Flu or HIV.
- The so-called “known unknown” may be generated by a terror attack or by simply an accident.
The WHO included another fearsome virus, Disease X, on its “List of Blueprint priority diseases.” The nine diseases include those we are already familiar with like MERS-CoV, SARS, Lassa fever, Ebola, Zika, and Marburg Virus.
“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown,” the WHO said.
The organization included Disease X not to alarm people, but to prompt public health officials into making sure which diseases to prioritize for research and development. They need to be ready for all threats especially those who have epidemic potential, and not just the known ones.
“The intensity of animal and human contact is becoming much greater as the world develops. This makes it more likely new diseases will emerge, but also modern travel and trade make it much more likely they will spread,” adviser to WHO Marion Koopmans told The Telegraph.
Zika’s sudden and violent attack on South America and the Caribbean through 2015-2016 caught health officials off-guard as an epidemic spreads without any warning.
The WHO assembled a committee of experts in viruses, bacteria and infectious disease to identify potential pandemics and epidemics. This was the third time the committee convened and the first time Disease X is included in the list.
An epidemic could start by deliberately releasing Disease X as a biological weapon. Potential perpetrators are rogue states like North Korea. Syria is also a candidate because it’s known to use chemical weapons. Terrorist organizations such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda also have potentials to start a biological attack.
Developing biological weapons are made easier by new scientific capabilities such as gene editing. Supercomputers of today are also tools for destruction.
For instance, an unknown nerve agent was allegedly used in an assassination plot last week on a Russian man who has been spying on a British and his daughter. North Korea also allegedly use a different nerve agent to assassinate Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother in 2017.
The human body may not be able to defend itself against viruses and bacteria made by man because there is no natural immunity.
Source: The New York Post