Former UK Vaccine Taskforce Chair Warns of Potential Deadly Pandemic in New Book
Kate Bingham, the former chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, has issued a stark warning in her new book about the looming threat of another deadly pandemic that could rival the devastation caused by the Spanish Flu, potentially claiming the lives of approximately 50 million people.
In an excerpt from her book, co-authored with vaccine expert Tim Hames, published in the Daily Mail, Bingham delves into the alarming scenario of a future pandemic and emphasizes the need for thorough pandemic preparedness.
Recalling the catastrophic impact of the 1918-19 flu pandemic, often referred to as the Spanish Flu, the authors highlight that it claimed the lives of at least 50 million individuals worldwide, a death toll twice that of World War I.
The authors sound the alarm by stating, “Today, we could expect a similar death toll from one of the many viruses that already exist. There are more viruses busily replicating and mutating than all the other life forms on our planet combined. Not all of them pose a threat to humans, of course – but plenty do.”
Their concern lies in the potential emergence of thousands of different viruses, any of which could evolve to ignite a pandemic. Furthermore, there’s a looming risk that viruses could jump between species, undergoing significant mutations in the process.
“So far, scientists are aware of 25 virus families, each of them comprising hundreds or thousands of different viruses, any of which could evolve to cause a pandemic,” Bingham and Hames caution.
Their warning echoes a statement made by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May, when the WHO expressed concerns about an “inevitable” next pandemic, often referred to as “Disease X,” which has alarmed public health experts worldwide.
The term “Disease X” was introduced by the WHO in 2018, a year prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. It falls within the WHO’s “Blue print list priority diseases,” a compilation of infectious diseases that could potentially trigger the next deadly pandemic, which includes names such as Ebola, SARS, and Zika.
“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease,” the WHO emphasized. The Blueprint list underscores infectious diseases for which medical countermeasures are currently lacking.
Many experts believe that the next Disease X will likely be zoonotic, meaning it will originate in wild or domestic animals before spilling over to infect humans, following the patterns of diseases like Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Covid-19.
While the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant global impact, with an estimated 20 million fatalities, the authors stress that the world’s response could be considered somewhat “lucky” in comparison to potential future scenarios.
“The point is that the vast majority of people infected with the virus managed to recover,” the experts highlight. However, they caution that the next pandemic may not be as easily contained, as illustrated by diseases like Ebola, with a fatality rate of around 67 percent, or bird flu and MERS, both having high fatality rates.
The urgent message from Bingham and Hames underscores the vital importance of pandemic preparedness, vigilance, and international cooperation to mitigate the risks posed by potentially deadly pathogens lurking in our interconnected world.