Disease X

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Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of SARS-CoV-2, speculated in 2020 as being the first real-world virus to create Disease X

Disease X is a placeholder name that was adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2018 on their shortlist of blueprint priority diseases to represent a hypothetical, unknown pathogen that could cause a future epidemic.

Quotes[edit]

  • Experts say we are "due" for one. When it happens, they tell us, it will probably have a greater impact on humanity than anything else currently happening in the world. And yet, like with most people, it is probably something you haven't spent much time thinking about. After all, it is human nature to avoid being consumed by hypotheticals until they are staring us squarely in the face. Such is the case with a highly lethal flu pandemic. And when it comes, it will affect every human alive today.
  • Pandemic flu is apolitical and does not discriminate between rich and poor. Geographical boundaries are meaningless, and it can circle the globe within hours. In terms of potential impact on mankind, the only thing that comes close is climate change. And, like climate change, pandemic flu is so vast, it can be challenging to wrap your head around it.
  • When most people hear "flu," they typically think of seasonal flu. No doubt, seasonal flu can be deadly, especially for the very young and old, as well as those with compromised immune systems. For most people, however, the seasonal flu virus, which mutates just a little bit every year, is not particularly severe because our immune systems have already probably seen a similar flu virus and thus know how to fight it. It's called native immunity or protection, and almost all of us have some degree of it. Babies are more vulnerable because they haven't been exposed to the seasonal flu and older people because their immune systems may not be functioning as well. Pandemic flu is a different animal, and you should understand the difference.
  • Panˈdemik/: pan means "all"; demic (or demographic) means "people." It is well-named, because pandemic flu spreads easily throughout the world. Unlike seasonal flu, pandemics occur when a completely new or novel virus emerges. This sort of virus can emerge directly from animal reservoirs or be the result of a dramatic series of mutations -- so-called reassortment events -- in previously circulating viruses. In either case, the result is something mankind has never seen before: a pathogen that can spread easily from person to defenseless person, our immune systems never primed to launch any sort of defense.
  • History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before. It may seem strange to be adding an 'X' but the point is to make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests. We want to see 'plug and play' platforms developed which will work for any, or a wide number of diseases; systems that will allow us to create countermeasures at speed. [...] As the ecosystem and human habitats change there is always the risk of disease jumping from animals to humans. It’s a natural process and it is vital that we are aware and prepare. It is probably the greatest risk.

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External links[edit]

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