The coronavirus outbreak could be the feared “Disease X” that experts have warned about, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) adviser.
Prof Marion Koopmans, head of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, said the spread of COVID – , (the disease caused by coronavirus , is “rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the Disease X category”
The WHO revealed in February 2019 that it was preparing for an unknown international epidemic dubbed “Disease X”.
In its list of research and development matters, the agency said it represented “the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease”.
Writing in the journal Cell, Prof Koopmans said: “Whether it will be contained or not, this outbreak is rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the Disease X category, listed to the WHO’s priority list of diseases for which we need to prepare in our current globalized society.
“Initial resemblances with the SARS outbreak in terms of its origin, the disease associated with infection, and the ability to spread are clear.
“But since 2019, global air travel has increased more than 20 – fold, and the efforts needed to try to contain the epidemic are daunting. “
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