Disease X: The Next Pandemic That Could Kill 50 Million People

Dame Kate Bingham, former chair of the UK's Vaccine Taskforce, warned that the next pandemic could claim 50 million lives, suggesting it might be underway and highlighting that Covid-19 wasn't as deadly.

The expert added that while 25 virus families are known, there could exist over a million undiscovered variants with the potential to jump between different species.

What Is Disease X?

Disease X may be attributed to 'pathogen X,' potentially a zoonotic RNA virus. It likely originates in an environment where factors favor sustained transmission within the epidemiological triad.

Dame Kate said. "Imagine Disease X is as infectious as measles with the fatality rate of Ebola, which is 67 percent. Somewhere in the world, it’s replicating, and sooner or later, somebody will start feeling sick," 

In the UK, scientists are actively working on vaccine development for an undisclosed 'Disease X.' Over 200 researchers are involved in this research at the secure Porton Down laboratory complex in Wiltshire.

Kate highlighted that the rise in pandemics isn't merely coincidental. Globalization, urban crowding, and deforestation have collectively fostered conditions for viruses to cross species boundaries.

She also highlighted the importance of scientists developing a range of different prototype vaccines for every threatening virus family; that is currently known, ahead of the onset of the next pandemic.