Warning as Disease X could lead to ‘civil unrest and food shortages’
Disease X could lead to civil unrest and food shortages if it isn’t properly dealt with, experts have warned. Earlier this week, the UK announced it had started developing vaccines to treat Disease X.
Disease X is the term used to describe a virus which has the potential to cause severe disruption such as a pandemic.
Scientists have now started developing treatments for several viruses which could cause the same level of disruption as COVID-19.
Despite their preparation, Disease X could still wreak devastation on the UK if it isn’t properly contained.
Express.co.uk has been speaking to Dr Veronika Matutyte about what could happen if the disease struck today.
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Dr Matutyte said that if Disease X struck now, the disruption would be severe and hit all areas of life.
She said: “If Disease X were to strike now, the initial impact would be a sense of uncertainty and panic.
“We’d witness a global race to understand its transmission, effects, and potential treatments. From a health perspective, the initial cases might overwhelm health systems, particularly if Disease X proves to be highly contagious or especially severe.”
As well as overwhelming the NHS, Disease X could lead to violence in the streets.
Dr Matutyte explained: “Picture a world where hospitals are inundated, where every cough from a stranger raises alarm, and where nations shutter their borders in a desperate attempt to prevent the spread.
“This might lead to societal disruptions, shortages of essential goods, and even civil unrest in certain areas.”
She added: “In such dire straits, misinformation could run rampant, stoking fears and potentially hindering effective responses.”
The UK’s potential response to another Covid-esque pandemic is under question as the inquiry into how it handled COVID-19 continues. Dr Matutyte gave her verdict on the UK’s position.
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Dr Matutyte said: “The age-old question of preparedness! The UK, like many developed nations, boasts robust healthcare systems and scientific research capabilities.
“In recent memory, the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a testament to its adaptability and resilience, rolling out vaccinations at an impressive speed.
“That said, no nation can be wholly prepared for the unknown. The initial response might be slow, but based on past performance and the lessons learned from previous health crises, the UK would likely accelerate its countermeasures quickly.”
Part of the reason why the UK has opened up a lab developing treatments for Disease X is so it can respond quickly to another pandemic.
Chief executive of the UKHSA, Professor Dame Jenny Harries, said: “What we’re trying to do now is capture that really excellent work from Covid and make sure we’re using that as we go forward for any new pandemic threats.
“What we try to do here is keep an eye on the ones that we do know.
“For example, with Covid, we are still here testing all the new variants with the vaccines that have been provided to check they are still effective.
“But we are also looking at how quickly we can develop a new test that would be used if a brand new virus popped up somewhere.”
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