University of Nebraska Medical Center

8 diseases that could lead to the next pandemic

Interesting Engineering These diseases are on epidemiologists’ radar as potential sources of the next pandemic.

At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, held 14-19 January, a panel of health industry leaders took a break from economics to discuss preplanning for the outbreak of a hypothetical “Disease X.”

Disease X is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) designation for an as-yet-unknown infectious condition capable of causing an epidemic or pandemic. The idea is to be prepared so that when Disease X does strike — which is inevitable — scientists are prepared to rush out a vaccine rapidly.

In fact, the WHO added Disease X to its Blueprint list of priority pathogens in 2018. The Blueprint is the list of diseases for which the WHO urgently needed accelerated research and development. The list will be updated again in 2024.

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

While Disease X is unknown, what are the other diseases the WHO and other disease experts consider most likely to lead to the next pandemic? Let’s find out.

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