World Health chiefs draw up list of 10 viruses

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Ten killer viruses that pose the most ‘urgent’ threat to humanity have been revealed by concerned experts.

The World Health Organization has released its annual list of lethal pathogens that research should be fast-tracked for. 

Ebola and Zika, which both have caused brutal pandemics in the past four years, were named amid fears they could strike again.

For the first time ever, ‘Disease X’ – representing a pathogen currently unknown to scientists – was mentioned by the WHO. 

The list, published this week, comes amid mounting fears of a global pandemic, with experts concerned about the flu season that rocked the world. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom, director general of the WHO, warned earlier this week humanity is ‘vulnerable’ to an outbreak that could kill millions. 

Announcing the list of ‘prioritised diseases’, a statement on the WHO’s website read: ‘The order of diseases on this list does not denote any ranking of priority.

‘This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it indicate the most likely causes of the next epidemic.’ The list was not in an alphabetical order.

Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever, which kills 40 per cent of those it strikes and was recently spotted in Uganda, made its way onto the list. 

Officials are also concerned about Marburg virus, considered to be one of the most deadly pathogens in existence. It also rocked the African nation in November.

The other five lethal diseases mentioned on the list of needing urgent action include: Lassa fever, MERS, SARS, Nipah virus and Rift Valley fever. 

It is the first time ‘Disease X’ has made its way onto the list, which is compiled by a branch of the WHO that aims to fast-track disease research. 

WHO said: ‘Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.

‘And so the R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown “Disease X” as far as possible.’ 

Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS), first spotted in China just seven years ago, has been dropped from this year’s urgent list, the third of its kind.

While the WHO warned SFTS and 14 other viruses pose a ‘major’ threat to humanity, but there isn’t an ‘urgent’ need for accelerated research.

Flu was included on the list of prioritised diseases. The killer virus has caused havoc around the world so far this winter, gripping the US, UK and Australia.

This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed 50 million people across the world – three times more than World War 1. 

Chikungunya, monkeypox, emergent non-polio enteroviruses (including EV71, D68), leptospirosis, dengue, yellow fever and HIV/AIDs were included.

And tuberculosis, malaria, smallpox, cholera, leishmaniasis, West Nile Virus and even plague also made it onto the secondary list.

The latter prompted international concerns in autumn last year, after triggering the ‘worst outbreak in 50 years’ in Madagascar, killing more than 200 people. 

 

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