To prevent pandemics such as Covid-19 and major public health emergencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a list of pathogens (viruses and bacteria) that should be prioritized for research and development of vaccines and treatments. The list is updated annually, and diseases are chosen according to their epidemic potential and the lack of medications or ways of prevention.
The list was first published in 2018. At the moment, they are: Covid-19, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Ebola and Marburg, Lassa fever, Mers and Sars (these diseases, which are also caused by coronaviruses, are on the list since before the pandemic), Nipah and henipaviral conditions (triggered by the same type of virus), Rift Valley Fever and Zika.
The WHO also warns of the so-called “disease X”, which represents the possibility of a new pandemic arising from a pathogen that is still unknown. Adding her to the list is a request for the scientific community to prepare to deal with an unexpected enemy.