Disease X outbreak that could ‘kill 80 million’ is ‘on the horizon’ – and scientists need help

A CALL has gone out to help prevent the outbreak of a so-called deadly disease known as Disease X.

It was reported recently that an outbreak of the flu-like illness could result in a pandemic that would kill 80 million people worldwide.

This graphic from a new report shows global examples of emerging and re-emerging diseases
This graphic from a recent report shows global examples of emerging and re-emerging diseases

Scientists are currently looking for vaccines that could combat the as-yet-unknown infectious diseases and unknown pathogens.

On Tuesday, the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said it was looking for funding applications for platforms capable of developing vaccines to combat the threat.

Richard Hatchett, CEO of the CEPI, said: “We can be sure that another epidemic is on the horizon.

“It is not a case of if, but when.

“We need to be prepared. We need to invest in platform technologies that can be used to quickly respond to the emergence of a pathogen with epidemic potential.

“That’s why CEPI is boosting its funding for such platform technologies that can be used to make vaccines and other immunoprophylactics in a matter of weeks and months, instead of years, which is currently the case.”

The calls add to the $54 million the organisation has already committed on a guarding against the spread.

Since 1980, outbreaks of infectious diseases have increased from 1,000 to 3,000 in 2010.

Hatchett added: “Our criteria are broad, and the call is open for 12 months, in the hope that we’re able to attract the best and brightest ideas from around the world.

“If we succeed in this endeavour, we will be able to equip humanity with the tools to combat Disease X and create a world in which epidemics are no longer a threat.”

MORE DEADLY THAN EBOLA

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified Disease X as more deadly that Ebola and Lassa fever.

According to a recent report by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, such a pandemic could wipe out between 50 and 80 million people, as well as five percent of the global economy.

The report added that as the world has become increasingly interconnected, such a pathogen could spread around the globe within 36 to 50 hours.

While some governments and agencies have made efforts to prepare for disease outbreaks since the devastating 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that left over 10,o00 dead, those efforts are “grossly insufficient,” the report said.

In the case of a pandemic, many national health systems – particularly in poor countries – would collapse.

The WHO also warned earlier this year that another pandemic of flu – which is caused by airborne viruses – is inevitable, and said the world should prepare for it.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board’s report cited the 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic, which killed an estimated 50 million people.

Studies have shown most of the fatalities were among those under the age of 65.

The virus is thought to have used the body’s own immune system to work against it.

This caused fatal “cytokine storms” in victims – an overproduction of immune cells that can overwhelm the body.

The stronger the immune system, the more devastating the effects of the Spanish Flu on an infected person.

If Disease X spawns from an influenza strain it could have a similarly devastating effect on younger populations.

An outbreak of a flu-like illness could kill 80 million people across the world in less than two days, experts have warned
Getty – Contributor

An outbreak of a flu-like illness could kill 80 million people across the world in less than two days, experts have warned[/caption]

Some governments have made efforts to prepare for disease outbreaks since the devastating 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa
Reuters

Some governments have made efforts to prepare for disease outbreaks since the devastating 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa[/caption]

Credit: Everett Collection Historical / Alamy Stock Photo

As many as 50 million people died worldwide as a result of the devastating Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918[/caption]

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