What’s deadly and doesn’t exist, but has shaped the Covid response?
A framework for an unknown pathogen was put in place in 2018 and is helping with our recovery
If a vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 is discovered at what Donald Trump, the US president, calls “warp speed”, it will be partly because scientists were encouraged to plan for an unknown pathogen for which there was no obvious defence.
This is the view of a panel of leading scientific experts who, in early 2018, added “Disease X” to a watchlist of diseases for which there were no known “countermeasures” in the form of treatments, diagnostics or vaccines.
The story of Disease X was picked up at the time by this publication and went viral. Those on the original panel say the inclusion of Disease X in the list – or at least the concept of encouraging pandemic planners to plan for the unknown – is now paying dividends in the fight against this new coronavirus...