In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned about Disease Xan unknown pathogen that could cause a serious global pandemic in the future.


In January 2024, during the World Economic Forum‘s annual meeting, Disease X was once again discussed as being a potential threat following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations agency also disclosed that such preparation is meant to reduce COVID-19-era devastations such as the insufficient capacity of medical systems.

However, WHO’s revelation about Disease X has sparked widespread concern, leaving many in suspense.


TheCable Lifestyle examines what to know about Disease X.


According to WHO, disease X is a theoretical term that “represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease”.


Disease X is still a term just used by WHO to represent an unknown disease that could cause a future pandemic. This disease does not exist yet.

In 2022, Disease X was added to WHO’s updated list of priority diseases and pathogens targeted for research and development.

Disease X is not a specific disease itself at the moment but rather a theoretical framework to guide preparedness efforts and research initiatives.

The term was coined in 2018 making COVID-19 the first Disease X. However, there could be another in the future.


When will Disease X happen?

Predicting exactly when Disease X might happen is like guessing the exact moment a surprise might arrive — it’s pretty tricky!

So no one can predict where or when the next Disease X will emerge.

However, it is believed that the next Disease X could be caused by a new virus that will emerge from one of around 25 families of viruses that have already shown their capability to cause disease in people.


It is also anticipated to be zoonosis. That is, Disease X could be an infection that can be transmitted between humans and animals.

What are the symptoms of Disease X?

Disease X is still hypothetical and unidentified, so the symptoms remain unknown.

Since Disease X represents an unknown pathogen, there are no specific signs or characteristics associated with it at this time.


Can Disease X be stopped?

According to a study, Disease X can be stopped through proper preparation. Its damage can also be reduced through the following steps.

  • The world’s scientists, clinicians, and infectious disease experts must act collaboratively to investigate, control, and eliminate the disease in a timely way.
  • Widespread testing and aggressive contact tracing.
  • Active surveillance of virus laboratories to avoid a potential leak of a new virus.
  • Timely investments can be made to accelerate the development, availability, and approval of medical countermeasures (like diagnostics, vaccines, and clinical trials) required to curb the pandemic.
  • The advice of health academics should be sought in a timely way without any political involvement.

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