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Sounding The Alarm Bells, Top UK Scientists Warns The World Could See Another Pandemic, More Deadly Than Corona Virus; What Is Disease X And Genetically Altered Nidovirus?

Sir Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, has said another pandemic is "absolutely inevitable." As the world continues to struggle and still reels with the fallout from COVID-19, the importance of preparing for future pandemics has never been clearer. Among the efforts to safeguard global health is the concept of 'Disease X,' a hypothetical but potentially devastating pathogen that could emerge and trigger a worldwide epidemic or pandemic. Top scientists believe that by understanding and preparing for Disease X, we can strengthen our defences against both known and unknown viral threats. Also, German Cancer Research Center scientists warn that genetic recombination between different viruses may create new, more dangerous pathogens!

If you thought the COVID-19 pandemic was the worst humanity has witnessed in recent years, think again!

Experts in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic have been sounding alarm bells about the possibility of the world facing yet another threat—only this time it could be worse than the Coronavirus pandemic.

Another to join the chorus is the UK’s top scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance, who is also the former British Chief Scientific Advisor.

In fact, he went one step ahead to state and emphasize the ‘grave’ threat, saying that this should be one of the key topics/reasons for voting for a particular government as many countries, including India, are going through general elections.

He said, “The upcoming pandemic is going to be more severe” and added, “it would be almost unstoppable.” He urged the British people to make this an important issue in the elections. He also called on governments worldwide to remain alert to the upcoming danger.

Perhaps one reason he made this a focal point for voting for a particular party is that, during COVID-19 in 2020, proper medications did not reach many people. Therefore, it is necessary to find more ways and solutions to reach the maximum number of people in the event of the next pandemic.

He went on to address the G-7 countries and emphasize the crucial importance of taking immediate action in such circumstances, as the system created during the coronavirus period has now been relaxed.

He also states that the upcoming epidemic will result from this negligence, and international coordination will be needed to deal with it as the new epidemic will not give any warning before arriving.

It should be noted that in 2020, the coronavirus caused havoc worldwide, claiming the lives of millions of people.

Pandemic, Sir Patrick Vallance, Disease X, NidovirusesWho is Patrick Vallance, And What Did He Say To The UK Government?

Sir Patrick John Thompson Vallance is a British physician, scientist, and clinical pharmacologist who has worked in both academia and industry.

He served as the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of the United Kingdom from 2018 to 2023; upon stepping down, he became chair of the Natural History Museum in London.

As reported, Sir Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific adviser to the British government, urged the government to prioritize preparations for the pandemic and emphasized that the country is “not ready” for it yet.

According to the report, Vallance, speaking at a panel event at the Hay Festival in Powys, stressed that the UK government must implement “better surveillance” to detect the threats of the virus.

He also recommended some measures to prevent drastic steps during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as diagnostic tests, vaccines, and treatments.

The top scientist believes that such measures (as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic days) could be implemented. However, it would require some coordination.

“We know we have to have an army, not because there’s going to be a war. “We know we have to have an army, not because there’s going to be a war this year, but we know it’s an important part of what we need as a nation. We need to treat this preparedness in the same way and not to view it as an easy thing to keep cutting back when there’s no sign of a pandemic – because there won’t be a sign of a pandemic,” he said.

 

Addressing G7 Countries, according to the report, Vallance also said that by 2023, G7 had “sort of forgotten” his points about the pandemic preparations in 2021. “You can’t forget about it,” he said.

During the panel event, the British scientist mentioned the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic accord, calling it a “positive step.” However, he also criticized its “lack of focus and urgency.”

Last week, the WHO said that COVID-19 has cut global life expectancy by almost two years, wiping out a decade of progress.

According to the UN Health Agency’s World Health Statistics study, global life expectancy fell 1.8 years to 71.4 years—the same level it was in 2012.

The study said that the amount of time an average person can expect to live in good health fell 1.5 years to 61.9 years in 2021.

Disease X, The Next Pandemic

In order to prevent future pandemics, it is essential to prepare for both known and unknown viral threats.

Scientists are thus dedicating part of their research efforts to a theoretical future threat called ‘Disease X’.

Central to international preparedness strategies, CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) examines what people most want to learn about this unidentified pathogen.

What is Disease X?

Scientists and the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the term Disease X to represent an unknown pathogen that could potentially cause a serious international epidemic or pandemic in the future.

In February 2018, Disease X was added to the WHO’s updated Blueprint list of diseases, emphasizing the necessity of prioritizing research and development for such threats.

At the same time, CEPI also considers Disease X a significant focus for its research and development funding.

Does Disease X really exist? And could Disease X kill you?

Although Disease X itself is hypothetical and does not currently exist, the concept highlights a very real and escalating threat to global health that requires better preparedness.

The most recent example of a Disease X scenario is the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which leads to COVID-19.

COVID-19 quickly became a pandemic due to inadequate preparation, resulting in millions of deaths worldwide.

However, the rapid development and distribution of safe and effective vaccines have dramatically reduced the virus’s mortality and morbidity, saving an estimated 20 million lives in the first year alone.

Will Disease X happen? And when is Disease X coming?

No one can predict exactly where or when the next Disease X will emerge.

However, it is certain that a future Disease X is likely to exist and will eventually spread from animals to humans, causing an outbreak.

Recent history indicates that outbreaks of pathogens capable of severe illness and death in humans are becoming more frequent. In the 21st century alone, we have witnessed outbreaks of SARS-CoV-1, MERS, Zika, and numerous other new and re-emerging viral diseases.

Research published in 2022 estimated that the chance of a pandemic with an impact similar to COVID-19 is about 1 in 50 in any given year.

This means there is approximately a 38 per cent lifetime probability for anyone reading this to experience a pandemic akin to COVID-19. Unfortunately, environmental changes significantly contribute to this increasing risk.

Will Disease X cause the next pandemic?

While it is possible that the next pandemic threat could emerge as a novel Disease X, there is also a risk that known pathogens could mutate or re-emerge, leading to international epidemics or pandemics, as has occurred with the Chikungunya virus.

Where will the next Disease X come from?

New diseases emerge regularly across the globe, often jumping from animals such as bats to humans.

Scientists believe the next Disease X is likely to be caused by a new virus emerging from one of the approximately 25 viral families already known to cause diseases in humans.

How can we prepare for Disease X if it doesn’t exist yet?

Although we cannot predict the specific characteristics or timing of Disease X, we can still plan for it.

As Sir Patrick Vallance stated, prepping for a possible pandemic in advance would greatly help in controlling and mitigating its destruction.

Also, by studying the viral families most likely to harbour a novel Disease X, scientists can begin developing medical defences such as vaccines and treatments that can be quickly adapted to target a new viral disease.

CEPI’s 100 Days Mission aims to develop new vaccines against known or novel infectious diseases within three months of recognizing their pandemic threat.

Genetically Modified Nidoviruses

As if Disease X and mutations in the Covid-19 virus are not enough, scientists/virologists from the German Cancer Research Center have cautioned that ‘crossbreeding’ between different viruses could result in the emergence of a completely new, altered virus with potentially more dangerous characteristics.

Such viruses could even spark another COVID-19-like pandemic.

Nidoviruses

This natural virus evolution occurs as different virus species create new pathogens inside vertebrates.

DKFZ group leader Stefan Seitz said, “Using a new computer-assisted analysis method, we discovered 40 previously unknown iridoviruses in various vertebrates from fish to rodents, including 13 coronaviruses”.

Researchers note that most of these viruses are still unknown to humans because scientific studies have primarily focused on viruses that cause diseases in humans, domestic animals, and crops.

However, with the new AI-assisted method, scientists were able to analyze 300,000 data sets and derive insightful data simultaneously.

Nidoviruses consist of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and possess common characteristics that distinguish them from all other RNA viruses and document their relationship.

The researchers found that when host animals are infected with different viruses concurrently, a new virus may emerge due to the recombination of viral genes.

“Apparently, the nidoviruses we discovered in fish frequently exchange genetic material between different virus species, even across family boundaries,” says Stefan Seitz.

However, this virus evolution is more pronounced and radical when two viruses from entirely different families interact. Such evolution may lead the virus to cause fatal and dangerous diseases to the host animal.

“A genetic exchange, as we have found in fish viruses, will probably also occur in mammalian viruses,” explains Stefan Seitz. Such natural crossbreeding processes among viruses can easily occur in bats, which are known to carry a large number of viruses inside their bodies.

Notably, researchers suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus may have also developed among bats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

naveenika
naveenika
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