Wipe out humanity
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They do not know what Disease X is but conditions for the outbreak are perfect
THE World Health Organisation keeps a list of dangerous diseases which pose a serious threat of outbreak.
During a high-level meeting of the best medical scientists in the world, they added another to the high-risk list: The ominously named "Disease X".
The group, based in Geneva, convenes each year to discuss what new diseases pose the greatest potential of turning into a global pandemic.
They have conceded they do not know what Disease X is but their calculations warn conditions are perfect for its emergence, News.com.au reports.
It’s not just a stressed Mother Nature - with new organisms constantly being exposed by deforestation and close contact between humans and animals - who’s likely to be at fault.
WHO points out the use of chemical warfare is on the rise, both on the battlefield and in international espionage, and a series of deadly new diseases have been created through gene editing.
"Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease," the WHO said in a statement.
It believes the world’s not in a good position to respond to such a surprise.
"History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before", WHO committee science adviser John-Arne Rottingen told the Telegraph.
"The point is to make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests."
The WHO is worried a new international public health crisis could come from any direction.
The flu virus continues to rapidly mutate and new exotic pathogens keep jumping to humans from animals.
"These diseases pose major public health risks, and further research and development is needed, including surveillance and diagnostics," it states.
But a recent explosion in gene editing technology — such as CRISPR — has come at a bad time.
It highlights how post-World War II taboos against the use of nerve and poison gas, as well as weaponised bacteria and viruses, have been breaking down.
North Korea stands accused of using a nerve agent to kill the brother of their leader, Kim Jong-un.
Russia stands accused of using a radioactive substance to murder a former spy in Britain in 2006. It’s again been implicated in a nerve-agent attack on another spy, Sergei Skripal, earlier this month.
Syria — after promising to hand over all its chemical weapons several years ago — is once again being accused of unleashing toxic substances against its own population in towns and suburbs under the control of rebel forces.
The WHO points out that synthetic diseases will face no natural immunity in the world’s population. Nobody has ever been exposed to them before. So their immune systems haven’t found any weak spots in such a disease.
This means a deliberate outbreak is likely to spread fast, with a high level of fatality.Read More...