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WHO head urges world to prepare for Disease X

WHO head urges world to prepare for Disease X Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The world must prepare for future unknown diseases. The concept of the so-called Disease X is not new - the World Health Organization has been using this term since 2018, according to the head of the WHO (World Health Organization), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in Davos.

According to him, there are known viruses such as MERS, Zica, and Ebola. But WHO officials also needed a placeholder for "a disease we don’t know that may come."

Ghebreyesus assures that WHO was preparing for the emergence of a virus similar to COVID even before the 2020 pandemic.

"You may even call Covid the first disease X, and it may happen again," Ghebreyesus said.

Some people say this will create panic, the head of WHO adds, but this is incorrect.

"It is better to anticipate something that may happen, because it has happened in our history many times, and prepare for it. We shouldn’t face things unprepared. We can prepare for some unknown things as well," Ghebreyesus said.

Such preparation includes an early warning system, as well as systems necessary when there is an urgent need for additional medical facilities and workforce.

COVID-19

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Officially, it lasted until May 2023.

However, in early January 2024, the WHO called for the continued observance of mask-wearing and social distancing to avoid COVID-19 infection. These recommendations are associated with the trend of increasing cases of coronavirus infection in many countries.

In Ukraine, the COVID pandemic ended in one day - on February 24, 2022, although some quarantine measures were only lifted in 2023.