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WHO engaged in identifying such a virus, which can give birth to an epidemic like Corona; All eyes on Disease X

Geneva. The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is updating a list of primary disease-causing bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that could cause future outbreaks or pandemics. These viruses have been kept under strict surveillance as a measure in case of any epidemic.

The first list of such bacteria was published by WHO in 2017 and the last exercise to prepare the list was done in 2018. The current list includes COVID-19, Crimean-Kong hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah and Henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever, Zika and disease X are included.

Disease X is included in the list to denote an unknown bacterium or virus that could cause a serious international pandemic. The WHO is calling on more than 300 scientists to study and further research 25 virus families and bacteria, including Disease X.

Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, said focusing on primary pathogens and virus families could help develop vaccines. Dr Ryan said, ‘It is necessary to target primary pathogens and virus families for the purpose of research and development for rapid and effective measures against epidemics. Without significant R&D before the COVID-19 pandemic, developing safe and effective vaccines in record time would not have been possible.’

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation, called the list a reference point for the research community to focus their energies on preparing to deal with the next threat. Dr Swaminathan said, ‘It has been developed in collaboration with experts in the field and where we as a global research community need to invest energy and money to develop tests, treatments and vaccines. We thank the US government, our partners, and the scientists who work with WHO to make this possible.

Tags: Coronavirus, WHO

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