Scientists narrow down 70 culprits in race to prevent next pandemic

Scientists have made a significant breakthrough in the hunt for Disease X, narrowing down the potential pandemic threats to just 70 virus families. Disease X is a hypothetical, currently unknown pathogen that was added to the World Health Organisation’s list of priority diseases in 2018. The WHO has warned that Disease X could be even more deadly than the Covid-19 pandemic, potentially killing 20 times more people.

In a recent study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, scientists from the University of Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Peking University in China analyzed the family tree of 743 distinct viruses to identify the virus lineages that pose the biggest risk. They found that human viruses, which can already spread within human populations, are more likely to become endemic and pose a significant threat.

Examples of infections that spread easily between humans include the common cold, Covid-19, flu, measles, and whooping cough. These viruses have the potential to cause widespread outbreaks and have a high epidemic potential. By focusing on virus families related to existing human viruses with epidemic potential, scientists can narrow down the search for the next Disease X.

The research conducted by Scottish scientists is a crucial step in preparing for future pandemics. It provides valuable insights into the types of viruses that are most likely to cause widespread outbreaks and allows for targeted surveillance and prevention efforts. By understanding the characteristics of these virus families, scientists can develop strategies to mitigate the risks and potentially prevent the emergence of a new pandemic.

While the search for Disease X continues, it is essential to remain vigilant and prepared. The World Health Organisation has identified nine priority diseases that pose the most urgent threat to humanity, including Covid-19, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Ebola and Marburg, Lassa fever, Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Nipah disease, Rift valley fever, Zika, and Disease X.

Preparations for the next pandemic are already underway, with efforts to develop vaccines and improve healthcare systems. The UK Health Security Agency has started trialling the world’s first jab for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, and Britain’s new vaccine lab is being prepared to respond to the unknown Disease X. These proactive measures are crucial in ensuring that we are better equipped to handle future pandemics.

To learn more about the potential threats and ongoing efforts to combat pandemics, you can read the article on the World Health Organisation’s priority diseases. It provides a comprehensive overview of the diseases that pose the most significant risk to public health and highlights the importance of preparedness and global cooperation.

As we continue to navigate the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial to remain informed and proactive in our approach to public health. By understanding the potential pandemic threats and taking necessary precautions, we can work towards preventing future outbreaks and protecting global health.


  1. Scientists have narrowed down the next pandemic threat to just 70 virus families
  2. Measles symptoms and how to protect kids
  3. The WHO’s nine priority diseases that pose the biggest risk to public health (plus Disease X)