0918 GMT October 15, 2019
The deadly illness was highlighted in a new report which said the world is facing increasing threat from disease pandemics. Scientists have previously warned of the possibility of an unknown deadly plague they dubbed Disease X.
In the report released on Wednesday, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board said the world is now at an “acute risk of pandemics”, and “the threat of a pandemic spreading around the globe is a real one”. The report also cited the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, express.co.uk reported.
The report pointed out the danger of a lethal respiratory pathogen, which could kill between 50 and 80 million people.
And with the world becoming more interconnected, the report said such a pathogen could spread around the globe within 36 to 50 hours.
Also highlighted were examples of emerging and re-emerging diseases which could trigger an outbreak, from H1N1 influenza to Ebola.
The report was presented to a panel led by the head of the World Health Organization and former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
In the case of a pandemic, many national health systems, particularly in poor countries, would collapse.
"Poverty and fragility exacerbate outbreaks of infectious disease and help create the conditions for pandemics to take hold," said Axel van Trotsenburg, acting chief executive of the World Bank and a member of the panel.
But while some governments and international agencies have made efforts to prepare for major disease outbreaks in recent years, those efforts are “grossly insufficient”, said the report.
Calling on governments to "heed the lessons these outbreaks are teaching us" and to "fix the roof before the rain comes", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said investment needed to be made to strengthen health systems and to fund research into new technologies.
The World Health Organization warned earlier this year of another pandemic of flu.
For now, health experts are advising people to protect themselves against flu by getting the flu jab.
The UK Notational Health Service said you should take up the offer of the flu vaccine when it becomes available, with the best time to have it from the beginning of October to the end of November