Experts Sound Alarmed Over ‘Disease X’: Will the Next Pandemic be Deadlier than COVID-19?


Disease X represents a mysterious and unidentified viral disease that could trigger a deadlier pandemic than ever witnessed before. In an ever-changing world where infectious diseases are constantly threatened, Disease X has emerged as a focal point for global health experts. This article aims to delve into the concept of Disease X, shed light on its implications, and explore why top experts warn us about its looming dangers.

What is Disease X?

Disease X represents the potential for unforeseen pandemics to arise unpredictably. As the world combats the relentless battle against well-documented viruses such as influenza, Ebola, and COVID-19, experts remain acutely aware that novel and unpredictable threats may emerge at any given moment. These emerging pandemic threats possess the capability to destabilise global healthcare systems, disrupt economies, and inflict immeasurable human suffering.

In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a compilation of pathogens capable of causing a “lethal pandemic,” followed by a prioritisation assessment in the subsequent year.

At present, the list encompasses COVID-19, Ebola virus disease, Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Nipah, Zika, and the most recent addition known as “Disease X.”

The Dilemma of Unidentified Viral Diseases

Public health experts predict that the unidentified viral diseases will likely be zoonotic, originating from animals and transmitting to humans. Previous deadly outbreaks like Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19 were also zoonotic.

Additionally, there is concern that the next pandemic could be caused by bioterrorism, with engineered pathogens being released either accidentally or intentionally.

The emergence of “Zombie” viruses, long trapped in frozen environments but potentially released due to climate change, is another possible source of a future pandemic.

The lack of familiarity with these pathogens amplifies the challenges that scientists, public health officials, and policymakers face. Disease X exemplifies this dilemma, representing an elusive viral entity with unknown characteristics, transmission patterns, and treatment options.

The Amplification of Global Health Risks1

The concept of Disease X underscores the pressing need to bolster global health preparedness. Recent pandemics have demonstrated the devastating consequences they can inflict—straining healthcare systems, causing widespread loss of life, and precipitating socio-economic upheaval. By taking proactive measures to address emerging pandemic threats and by investing in robust surveillance systems, diagnostics, and research, we can better shield ourselves against the ever-looming spectre of Disease X.

Comprehending Disease X

It is crucial to acknowledge the intricate interplay between viral pathogens and human society to grasp the potential ramifications of Disease X. The ongoing process of globalisation, encompassing travel and trade, accelerates the rapid dissemination of infectious diseases across borders. Disease X, shrouded in an enigma regarding its origins and mechanisms, poses a formidable challenge for scientists and healthcare professionals striving to contain and mitigate its impact.

WHO Warning and A Call to Action

Concerns were raised about the emergence of a highly lethal pathogen. In May 2023, WHO’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned of the persistent risk of new variants causing fresh illness and fatalities despite stabilising COVID-19 cases. Experts stressed prioritising research and funding for Disease X. Collaboration and resource pooling are crucial for improving surveillance, diagnostics, and developing antiviral treatments and vaccines. Investing in these areas strengthens defences against unexpected outbreaks and mitigates potential devastation from Disease X.


While the world remains on high alert due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential not to overlook other global health risks, including the enigmatic Disease X. By acknowledging the existence of unidentified viral diseases and emerging pandemic threats; we can proactively fortify our preparedness and response capabilities. Disease X constantly reminds us of the ever-present danger lurking in the shadows, urging us to unite as a global community to safeguard ourselves against potentially deadlier pandemics.

How can the medical community enhance global preparedness and response efforts to tackle the enigmatic Disease X and other potential emerging pandemic threats?


  1. What is disease X? Why are top experts warning of a deadlier pandemic? [Cited: 29 May 2023]. Available from:–news-289235
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