A science journalist warned that with the right resources, terrorists could genetically alter an existing virus or pathogen to create a wide-scale pandemic that can kill millions or even billions of people. The new pathogen could be the Disease X that the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned about.

Disease X is a codename of an unknown pathogen that is capable of causing a deadly pandemic in the future. Earlier this month, WHO’s Global Preparedness Monitoring Board released a report stating that up to 80 million people could die in just 36 hours if a new pandemic occurs today.

Bryan Walsh, a journalist and former editor for Time Magazine, warned that Disease X could be weaponized and used to wipe out a huge percentage of the population or even everyone on Earth. According to the journalist, if terrorist groups are able to get their hands on the proper resources, they can use biotechnology to alter the genetic composition of an existing pathogen or virus.

“We’re scared of disease outbreak and we’re scared of terrorism – put them together and you have a formula for chaos,” Walsh wrote in his book “End Times” according to Express.

Walsh noted that by genetically modifying a pathogen, terrorists can design it to be resistant against known medical countermeasures. They could also alter its effects so it can kill and spread faster.

“As deadly and as disruptive as a conventional bioterror incident would be, an attach that employed existing pathogens could only spread so far, limited by the same laws of evolution that circumscribe natural disease outbreaks,” he stated.

“But a virus engineered in a lab to break those laws could spread faster and killer quicker than anything that would emerge out of nature,” Walsh continued. “It can be designed to evade medical countermeasures, frustrating doctors’ attempts to diagnose cases and treat patients.”

According to the science journalist, the most lethal traits of pathogens can be increased and improved through genetic modification to make them even more harmful. Walsh noted that this could provide terrorists with a powerful biological weapon that is capable of wiping out entire populations of countries.

The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has claimed more than 2,100 lives The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has claimed more than 2,100 lives Photo: AFP / John WESSELS