CEPI and Disease X
- November 23, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
CEPI and Disease X
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has today launched a call for proposals to invite funding applications for innovative platform technologies that can be used to develop vaccines and other immunoprophylactics to rapidly respond to future outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases and unknown pathogens, known as “Disease X”.
- To stop outbreaks from turning into a public health emergencies, the WHO in May 2015 was asked to create an “R&D Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics”. This move was considered as it was expected to reduce the time lag between the identification of viral infections and the approval of vaccines/treatments.
- A group of global experts — the “R&D Blueprint Scientific Advisory Group” — was then formed by the WHO to draft a shortlist of less than ten “blueprint priority diseases”.
- It was in February 2018 that Disease X was added to the shortlist as a placeholder as a representation for a “knowable unknown” pathogen — that has the potential to cause a future epidemic.
What is Disease X?
- Disease X is a placeholder name that was adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2018 on their shortlist of blueprint priority diseases to represent a hypothetical, unknown pathogen that could cause a future epidemic. The WHO adopted the placeholder name to ensure that their planning was sufficiently flexible to adapt to an unknown pathogen (e.g. broader vaccines and manufacturing facilities).
- Disease X is the mysterious name given to the very serious threat that unknown viruses pose to human health. Disease X is on a short list of pathogens deemed a top priority for research by the World Health Organization, alongside known killers like SARS and Ebola.
- Disease X is definitely not a new disease but a potential disease that is yet to be discovered. Disease X is a placeholder name adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2018.
- It is not a newly discovered threat, but a hypothetical disease, which could emerge in the future and cause an outbreak/epidemic/pandemic.
- The organization mentions “Disease X” on a shortlist of pathogens considered to be a “blueprint priority diseases” for research. “X” in Disease X stands for unexpected.
- Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international pandemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease. It was first included in the WHO’s list of priority pathogens in 2018. COVID-19 represents the first occurrence of Disease X since its designation was established, emerging much sooner than anticipated.
Need for Disease X?
- When there was an Ebola outbreak in 2004 in South Africa, nobody knew about the existence of such a virus and hence everybody was unprepared for it. It emerged as an alien disease that had come to world and killed several people.
- Including “Disease X” in its priority list has helped the WHO — and countries the world over — acknowledge and make whatever plans they can for diseases emerging from unidentified sources.
- When CEPI was established in 2017 it classified Disease X as a serious risk to global health security, for which the world needed to prepare.
- The CEPI’s priority diseases include Lassa fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Nipah, Ebola, Rift Valley fever and Chikungunya. CEPI also invested in platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine development against unknown pathogens (Disease X).
- Besides this Disease X, other viruses — some of them now-well-known deadly viruses — on WHO’s current priority list are:
- Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
- Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease
- Lassa fever
- Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
- Nipah and henipaviral diseases
- Rift Valley fever