Flexing to Fight Disease X

It’s still poorly understood how Nipah virus slipped from Malaysia to Bangladesh, where it has caused near-annual outbreaks since 2001, and to India in 2018.
Such knowledge gaps leave us vulnerable to Nipah and other dangerous infections, writes Wellcome Trust Director Jeremy Farrar in a companion perspective to a New England Journal of Medicine study on Nipah transmission in Bangladesh. Since research hasn’t kept up with ever-evolving diseases, Farrar suggests:

  • Innovative funding approaches to make investments less risky
  • Focus on building up strong health systems and universal health care
  • Deploying peace negotiators with experience in conflict resolution for public health

The Quote: “Nipah was Disease X until 20 years ago; SARS and MERS were also Disease X in their times. Twenty years before that, it was HIV/AIDS. It is the disease we don’t know yet, emerging somewhere in the world, barely noticed until it can no longer be ignored.”

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