Disease X has been formerly included on the WHO’s Blueprint priority list since March 2017. And spokesman Tarik Jasarevic has re-emphasised the importance of preparing for the unknown. He said: “The Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint is a global strategy and preparedness plan that allows the rapid activation of R&D activities during epidemics.
Disease X is the unknown, something that we have not seen before
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic
“Its aim is to fast-track the availability and use of effective tests, vaccines and medicines that can be used to save lives and avert large scale crisis.
“The R&D Blueprint focuses on a priority list of diseases with outbreak potential, and for which there are no or insufficient medical countermeasures (drugs and vaccines), and no major control initiatives or extensive research pipelines.”
Mr Jasarevic stressed the list was not exhaustive, nor did it indicate the most likely causes of the next epidemic.
But he added: “Disease X is the unknown, something that we have not seen before.
Disease X is a placeholder name given to a possible emerging disease (Image: GETTY)
The WHO's Tarik Jasarevic stressed the importance of being prepared for Disease X (Image: GETTY)
“It is a placeholder to a disease that can emerge and cause harm.
“It represents the knowledge that a serious epidemic could be caused by a currently unknown pathogen, or a known pathogen with changed characteristics leading to increased severity, and/or expanded geographic range.
“No one can say when and where this will happen, but recent examples have made us aware