Another pandemic-causing ‘Disease X’ could be around the corner, scientist warns
Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, said that while pandemic flu is at the top of the list for outbreaks to be concerned about, there is a whole range of other viruses to be aware of. Prof Woolhouse said that in 2017, he and some colleagues got the World Health Organisation (WHO) to add something called Disease X to its list of priority diseases.
He explained: “We thought that the next emerging pandemic might be a virus that we don’t even know about yet – quite frankly we thought it was the most likely scenario.” Prof Woolhouse added that in a meeting the following year experts considered what the disease might be, and one possibility they came up with was a novel coronavirus related to Mers or Sars.
He said: “I mean, it really couldn’t be more accurate than that. This new virus is so closely related to Sars, so they absolutely pinpointed it as one of the threats.”
Asked if the next ‘Disease X’ could potentially be around the corner, Prof Woolhouse said “absolutely”.