Scientists are hard at work developing a new vaccine against a future pandemic, caused by the mysterious Disease X, the designation adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the next hypothetical pandemic.
Around 200 British scientists are hard at work doing just that at the Porton Down laboratory complex in Wiltshire, Sky News reported.
“What we’re trying to do here is ensure that we prepare so that if we have a new Disease X, a new pathogen, we have done as much of that work in advance as possible, UK Health Security Agency head Prof. Dame Jenny Harries told Sky News in an interview.
“Hopefully we can prevent it [a pandemic]. But if we can’t and we have to respond, then we have already started developing vaccines and therapeutics to crack it.”
How to fight the next pandemic
Harries explained that for originally, this initiative was originally developed to fight COVID and its many variants. However, climate change and population shifts have made another pandemic after COVID more likely.
Scientists believe that Disease X, the next hypothetical pandemic, could develop out of a mutation of influenza, such as the strain that led to the deadly Spanish flu pandemic, which killed 25 million people in the early 20th century.
They also suggested that it could be due to the influenza strain that causes bird flu. Although this type of virus typically only gets spread between animals, a mutation could make it spread to humans.