Gregory Campbell assured plans are in place to protect citizens from Disease X

Disease X.
Disease X.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has been assured plans are in place to protect citizens from Disease X when it eventually emerges from the pathogenic undergrowth and spreads around the globe.

The East Derry MP raised concerns about the future killer at Westminster.

He asked the Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care in England and Wales, Steve Brine, what assessment he had made of the implications for his policies of recent World Health Organisation (WHO) reports on Disease X.

WHO recently listed Disease X on its list of blueprint priority diseases alongside, Ebola, Marburg, Zika, SARS, MERS, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and Nipah and henipaviral disease.

The world health body explained that Disease X represented the "knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease, and so the R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown 'Disease X' as far as possible".

In response to Mr. Campbell's query, Mr. Brine said: "Public Health England (PHE) has comprehensive systems in place to identify and monitor global outbreaks of infectious disease, including incidents where the cause is not identified or the outbreak is caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease such as WHO's hypothetical 'Disease X'.

"Robust risk assessment processes exist to review threats to the United Kingdom population. As information emerges appropriate mitigation strategies will be implemented to protect the health of the UK public. The PHE National Emergency Response plans exist to deal with such event and have cross-Government agreement.

"The National Health Service-PHE High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) programme, initiated after the Ebola outbreak, has developed clinical and public health protocols and plans to provide a resilient HCID service for England. This will enable the NHS to deliver care safely and effectively for a wider range of known and unknown HCIDs."