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For years, scientists have used the term "Disease X" to refer to a potential global epidemic that would cause illness for which a vaccine has not yet been created.
Scientists worldwide are preparing for Disease X by working to develop safe and effective vaccines within 100 days of new pandemic threats being identified.
In a new United Kingdom research facility, scientists are preparing for "Disease X," a term they use to describe the next potential global pandemic. But online posts are claiming it’s evidence the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics have been planned.
"Disease X, the Next Plandemic," says text and a voice-over on a June 1 TikTok video that shows headlines about Disease X and the next potential global pandemic.
"Plandemic" refers to a 2020 documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic.
TikTok identified this video as part of its efforts to counter inauthentic, misleading or false content. (Read more about PolitiFact's partnership with TikTok.)
Disease X is not a new term. For years, scientists have used it to refer to any undiscovered human disease that could lead to an international epidemic.
In 2015, the World Health Organization first developed a list of "priority pathogens" to identify and prepare for diseases that could cause global outbreaks or pandemics. Since then, the WHO has continually updated the list. The current priority diseases are:
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Nipah and henipaviral diseases
Rift Valley fever
According to the WHO, Disease X "represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease."
At the recently opened research center in southwest England, scientists are working to prepare for Disease X by assessing animal viruses that could infect humans and pathogens that do not yet have a vaccine. Scientists will also identify areas where immunizations could be improved, such as with flu shots or mpox vaccinations, The Guardian reported.
This work is part of the "100 Days Mission," a global effort to make safe and effective vaccines against any potential pandemic threat within 100 days of identification. It is not evidence that scientists are plotting the next pandemic.
We rate the claim that Disease X is "the next plandemic" False.
World Health Organization, "Prioritizing diseases for research and development in emergency contexts," accessed Aug. 7, 2023
World Health Organization, "Accelerating R&D processes," accessed Aug. 7, 2023
World Health Organization, "WHO to identify pathogens that could cause future outbreaks and pandemics," Nov. 21, 2022
Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, "CEPI’s 100 Days Mission," accessed Aug. 7, 2023
The Guardian, "New vaccine research centre in UK to help scientists prepare for ‘disease X’," Aug. 6, 2023
BBC News, "Porton Down: Can this laboratory help stop the next pandemic?," Aug. 6, 2023
Sky News, "‘Disease X’: UK scientists begin developing vaccines against new pandemic," Aug. 7, 2023
PolitiFact, "Fact-checking ‘Plandemic’: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus," May 8, 2020
PolitiFact, "No, COVID wasn’t planned by FEMA to kill thousands and open concentration camps," Sept. 16, 2021
PolitiFact, "Simulation was not prep for a planned 2025 pandemic," May 5, 2023
PolitiFact, "Recycled claim is still false: The COVID-19 pandemic was not planned," Aug. 26, 2022
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