The doctor who helped discover Ebola has warned of new deadly diseases that could spread as quickly as Covid-19 but could be as deadly as the African virus.
Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum said humanity is facing a number of unknown threats that could affect populations worldwide.
He shared how new viruses emerge from the tropical forests of Africa that could spread quickly.
“We are now in a world where new pathogens will appear. And that is a threat to humanity,” the professor told CNN.
When asked if a new disease could be more apocalyptic than Covid-19, he said, “Yes, yes, I think so.”
His comments came when a woman showing symptoms of hemorrhagic fever in Ingende, a remote town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sparked fears of new deadly pathogens on the horizon.
She was tested for a variety of diseases, including Ebola, but all of them were negative.
It therefore sparked fears that her illness could have been caused by so-called “Disease X”, a new “unexpected” pathogen that could spread as quickly as Covid-19 but has an Ebola death rate of 50 to 90 percent .
“We must all be scared,” said the patient’s doctor, Dr. Dadin Bonkole, across from the US news channel. “Ebola was unknown. Covid was unknown. We must be afraid of new diseases.”
“Disease X” is still hypothetical, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), scientists and public health experts fear that an outbreak could lead to a serious illness if and when it occurs.
Professor Muyembe warned much more zoonotic diseases, namely, those jumping from animals to humans, could arise.
Covid-19 is one of those diseases, along with yellow fever and rabies, for example, which are believed to have originated from an unknown reservoir – the term used to indicate the natural host of a virus – in the animal kingdom.
The Covid-19 virus SARS-CoV-2 probably originated in China and possibly from bats.
Since yellow fever was identified as the first zoonotic disease in 1901, another 200 have reportedly been identified.
The zoonotic disease outbreak has been largely attributed to deforestation, which is causing the animals’ natural habitats to disappear.
This leaves room for bats, rats, and other insects, which act as vectors of disease, to circulate and come into greater contact with humans while other animals are wiped out.
According to research by Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, three to four viruses are identified each year, most of which are transmitted from animal to human.
Scientists also believe that “Disease X” could breed in live animals at what is known as the “wet market,” which sells wildlife from rainforests in urban areas.