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WHO starts research on the next big pandemic

Even as the world recovers from the impact of the Covid pandemic, bio-scientists have started a global search to identify micro organisms that could  potentially cause another public health crisis. The World Health Organisation chaired a meeting last week with three hundred top scientistsfrom across the world to consider the pros and cons of 25 virus families, bacteria and disease ‘X’.

As per the UN health body, Disease X has been included to represent an unknown pathogen that could cause a serious international epidemic. It is said by the officials that the WHO is launching a global scientific process to update the list of priority pathogens, the agents that can cause outbreaks or pandemics to guide global investment, research and development, particularly in vaccines, tests and treatments.

According to the WHO, the current list includes Covid-19, CrimeanCong haemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome, Nipah and henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever, Zika and Disease X.

The Executive Director of WHO said, “Targeting priority pathogens and virus families for research and development of counter-measures is essential for a fast and effective epidemic and pandemic response. Without significant R&D investments prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it would not have been possible to have safe and effective vaccines developed in record time.”

WHO chief Sowmya Swaminathan said, “This list of priority pathogens has become a reference point for the research community on where to focus energies to manage the next threat.” The revised list is likely to be published in the first quarter of next year.

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