The deadly coronavirus is looking a lot like the theoretical “Disease X” that officials have long warned could spark a dangerous pandemic, a World Health Organization expert said.
Marion Koopmans, a member of WHO’s emergency committee, said the virus is the first to meet the criteria of the so-called “Disease X” — defined as a quick-spreading and unpredictable illness caused by a previously unknown pathogen, Daily Express reported.
The new virus, now identified as COVID-19, has spread beyond China to more than 79,000 people in almost three dozen countries and territories — since December.
“Whether it will be contained or not, this outbreak is rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the disease X category,” Koopmans, head of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, wrote in the journal “Cell.”
WHO gave the name “Disease X” in 2017 to “a serious international epidemic caused by a pathogen currently unknown.” The not-yet-identified illness was added to a list of nine diseases with the capability to cause a global health crisis.
The new coronavirus has now proved difficult to control since it appears capable of spreading from those who show no symptoms.
The death toll has risen across the world to more than 2,600 people, including health professionals working to fight the illness.
Within 24 hours, two Chinese doctors were killed by the new virus in the Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, Metro UK reported. Dr. Huang Wenjun, 42, and Dr. Xia Sisi, 29, both died from the virus over the weekend after treating infected patients.
New York Post