A woman in a remote town in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been showing symptoms of hemorrhagic fever, which scientists fear may be a sign of a new deadly virus, termed ‘Disease X’, which could be as contagious as Covid-19 virus but have Ebola’s fatality rate of 50-90 per cent.
Disease X, where the ‘X’ stands for ‘unexpected’, has been termed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as hypothetical for now. But the woman in Ingende has been tested for many diseases, including Ebola, but they have all come out negative. Scientists now fear this could be that deadly virus, one of many that could emerge from the African tropical rainforests.
“We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out. And that is what constitutes a threat for humanity,” Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, the scientist who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976 told CNN, adding that these new viruses could be much deadlier than Covid-19.
The scientist has warned of many animal-based viruses or those viruses that can jump the species barrier and infect humans. He said that Covid-19 is among those diseases, along with rabies and yellow fever.
Muyembe leads the National Institute of Biomedical Research in Kinshasa, backed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO. These labs are where early detection of new diseases takes place.
“If a pathogen emerged from Africa, it will take time to spread all over the world. So, if this virus is detected early — like in my institution here — there will be opportunity for Europe [and the rest of the world] to develop new strategies to fight these new pathogens,” he is quoted as saying in a report.
Coronavirus has impacted over 85 million people worldwide and killed over 1.8 million. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is suspected to originate from bats.