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No, ‘Disease X’ doesn’t exist – and World Economic Forum didn’t ‘admit’ it would be ‘unleashed’ in 2025

IN SHORT: Fear-mongering posts on social media claim the WEF has admitted that ‘Disease X’ will be ‘unleashed’ in 2025. But this is a misunderstanding of what Disease X is – a placeholder name – and false.

“WEF Admits Disease X Will Be Unleashed In 2025,” reads the headline of identical articles circulating on social media in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere since late January 2024.

The World Economic Forum, or WEF, is an organisation that encourages governments and the private sector to cooperate on important global issues. It is often the target of false conspiracy theories.

The article was published on 23 January by The People’s Voice. The website, previously known as News Punch, is widely known to spread false information.

The piece has since been republished on several other websites and blogs. Its blurb reads: “The World Economic Forum (WEF) has declared that ‘Disease X’ will be unleashed onto the public by the year 2025 – and the consequences will be devastating for humanity.”

The claim also appears here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

It echoes the thoroughly debunked Plandemic conspiracy theory that the global Covid outbreak was secretly planned by global elites that included drug companies, Bill Gates and the World Health Organization (WHO).

But Disease X doesn’t exist. And WEF didn’t “admit” that it would be “unleashed” in 2025.


Placeholder name for hypothetical disease

Disease X is a placeholder name for a possible unknown disease that may break out unexpectedly. It’s used in discussions about whether the world is prepared for another global pandemic and ways to reduce the harm of such an outbreak.

The name was first coined in the WHO’s 2018 review of diseases in urgent need of research and development, known as the R&D Blueprint.

The blueprint aims to reduce the time between when a serious disease is declared a public health emergency and when diagnostic tests, vaccines and other treatments become available. It came out of the 2014 Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa and spread to a few cases in the US and Europe.

The 2018 R&D Blueprint lists eight diseases in “urgent need” of “accelerated research and development”. Seven are existing diseases, such as Ebola, Zika and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars). The eighth is the unknown Disease X, which represents “the awareness that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently not recognized to cause human disease”.

Disease X doesn’t exist and once a previously unknown disease becomes known, it will be given its own name.

‘Preparing for Disease X’ session at WEF annual meeting

On 17 January 2024, the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland held a session titled “Preparing for Disease X”. Participants included WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Its description reads: “With the World Health Organization continuing to research the potential of so-called ‘Disease X’, what novel efforts are needed to prepare healthcare systems for the multiple challenges ahead?”

At no point in the session did any of the speakers “admit” that Disease X would be “unleashed” in 2025.

The claim is false.

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