The WHO Is on the Lookout for the Disease That May Be the Next Global Pandemic

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A Mysterious Global Pandemic?

As far as the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned, there’s a looming threat of an as-yet-unknown international epidemic — one that could potentially be deadly. In the WHO’s latest R&D Blueprint of priority diseases, the yet-to-be-identified culprit behind the next global pandemic is called simply “Disease X.” It might seem like little more than an empty guess, but Disease X represents much more than that.

At first, including an unidentified disease with the potential to wreak havoc on humanity feels kind of alarmist — but it isn’t meant to create panic. According to a statement explaining the R&D Blueprint, “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”

This placeholder of sorts is included in the WHO’s list of prioritized diseases (first made public in December 2015 and later reviewed in January 2017) in order to “enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown ‘Disease X’ as far as possible.”

The list also includes several known diseases that have already reached epidemic levels in parts of the world; among them Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), Ebola, Marburg, and Zika viruses.

Preparedness is Key

To be clear, we don’t yet know what Disease X is. It might not even exist yet. But the possibility of a life-threatening, global epidemic is not science fiction, and that’s why it’s important to be prepared.

“This is not some future nightmare scenario,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom told audiences at the 2018 World Government Summit in Dubai back in February. “This is what happened exactly 100 years ago during the Spanish flu epidemic.”

The inclusion of Disease X in the agency’s R&D Blueprint marks the first time the WHO has included an unknown pathogen. The decision is rooted in the belief that humanity has learned a thing or two from its past experiences with global pandemics, and that it’s crucial to anticipate what could be and prepare accordingly.

“History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before,” John-Arne Rottingen, Research Council of Norway CEO and WHO committee scientific adviser, told The Telegraph. Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s less work to be done to combat existing diseases. If anything, the efforts go hand in hand.

“It may seem strange to be adding an ‘X’ but the point is to make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests,” Rottingen explains. “We want to see ‘plug and play’ platforms developed which will work for any, or a wide number of diseases; systems that will allow us to create countermeasures at speed.”

So, how do we prepare for Disease X? To start, we’ll need research — and lots of it. Perhaps equally important will be addressing an issue that ails much of the world today: a lack of adequate health coverage. As he stood before audiences in Dubai earlier this year, WHO chief Tedros said that “Universal health coverage is the greatest threat to global health.”

Indeed, the lack of access to even the most basic health coverage is among the factors that could allow Disease X to morph from a mysterious possibility into a dreadful — and deadly — reality. Coupled with the habits of a globalized world, lack of healthcare would also make it easier for diseases to spread.

In adding Disease X to its list, this is perhaps the most important point the WHO wants to highlight. The agency also aims to raise awareness about how humanity’s choices can potentially pose a great threat to our species.

Marion Koopmans, another WHO adviser, told The Telegraph that as the world develops, the intensity of human and animal contact is increasing, which “makes it more likely new diseases will emerge, but also modern travel and trade make it much more likely they will spread.”

To that point, Rottingen pointed out in Dubai last month that as the world’s ecosystems change and our habitats evolve, diseases in animals making the leap to humans is “probably the greatest risk.” In fact, as far as viruses are concerned, that evolution is very much a natural process — one that we need to be aware of and prepare for.

The post The WHO Is on the Lookout for the Disease That May Be the Next Global Pandemic appeared first on Futurism.


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[Deal Alert] Wink Lookout Kit, Relay, and sensors are 15-50% off

If you’re interested in a new security kit for your home or a way to get started setting up a smart home, Wink has a nice offering that’s pretty much foolproof for newbies. I reviewed the hub a while ago, and though I moved to SmartThings for its more advanced features, I can still recommend Wink because it makes the basics a lot easier than SmartThings. And Wink’s new Lookout takes that one step further by providing sensors and a siren that are pre-paired with the included hub, requiring even less setup.

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[Deal Alert] Wink Lookout Kit, Relay, and sensors are 15-50% off was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Wink Lookout review: Do you want total control of your home security system?

As one of the more popular smarthome hubs, it makes sense that Wink recently got involved with home security by introducing its $ 199 Wink Lookout bundle aimed at first-time buyers. The bundle includes a siren, some sensors and a Wink hub.

Even those of us — like me — who already have a Wink hub can add some of the individual security components of Lookout, which are available separately.

This two-pronged strategy is a smart play by Wink but the question is: How well does Wink Lookout work? That’s a trickier question to answer because it depends on how you expect a self-monitoring home security system to behave. More on that later.

A modular system that includes a smart home hub

So what do you get for $ 199 in the Wink Lookout package? There’s a standard Wink Hub 2, a pair of Z-Wave door/window sensors, one Z-Wave motion sensor and one Z-Wave siren/chime module. All of these can be attached walls, doors and windows with included screws, or can be mounted with double-sided tape, also included. Additional motion sensors or siren/chime units are $ 39 each while another door/window sensor costs $ 29, so you can build out your system as needed.

I love the design of the motion sensor. I call it the eyeball because that’s what it looks like, and it blinks a pleasing blue when it sees movement in its 110-degree field of view. The sensor attaches magnetically to its rounded base plate so you can easily adjust the angle. And there’s also a flat spot on the sensor back so you can stand it on the floor, a shelf or table if you’d like. In the Wink app, you have five different sensitivity settings for the motion sensor; helpful if you have pets.

The siren/chime module also looks nice but how it sounds is more important. There are three volume levels for both the siren and the chime function and you can choose from 10 different siren alert sounds. I found that automating the chime with a Wink Robot is useful: Play a pleasant sound when someone opens the front door or garage for example. The siren is really meant for a different purpose, but again, more on that in a minute. At the highest volume level though, you don’t want to be standing next to it.

Easy installation

Lookout devices (click to enlarge)

Installation for the base products was generally easy although I used my own Wink Hub 2 to set things up. I did have a few struggles pairing the motion sensor and siren/chime until I remembered that I typically have to get very close to my hub when pairing Z-Wave devices. Once I did that, the pairing was successful. For folks without a Wink Hub, the products come pre-paired so you don’t have to go through this step, which is a nice touch.

Note that other supported Wink products can feed into Lookout as well: I was able to add my Nest Camera for motion detection as well as my Z-Wave front door lock to the Lookout system.

This is a huge benefit for those with existing smart home products, although I’d caution you before using a webcam, as any detected movement will set the system off: Again, a challenge if you have pets.

A modern twist on home security

Lookout actions (click to enlarge)

Once I had everything paired and connected, I started to scratch my head a little. Wink says that Lookout provides actionable alerts and control. And it pretty much does exactly that because there’s no traditional arm/disarm feature. Instead, in the Wink app, there’s an Alerts On or Alerts Off button. That doesn’t stop the sensors from monitoring, it simply stops sending you notifications from them.

The idea here is that whenever Lookout detects motion or sees that a door or window is open, it will send a notification to your phone. Tap the notification and your phone will open the Wink app where you can choose to dismiss the alert or take action. If you choose the latter, you get another in-app screen with three options: Turn siren on, Call someone in your contacts list or Call 911. Essentially Lookout works as advertised in this regard.

Is that how you want your home security system to work though? There’s no right answer here and for some folks, particularly those that live alone, Lookout should be a perfect fit. I’m not so sure about how it fits me, however.

Your smartphone is the control panel

Since the entire system is smartphone based, I’d need to add my wife, son and daughter as users to my Wink account. That’s not difficult to do, and I probably should have done so a while ago. But I also have to convince my family to then install the Wink app and use it as the “security control panel” for the house.

They’re not likely going to do that: It’s taken me two years just to get them to use the multiple Amazon Echo devices in the house to turn lights on and off. In fact, because they use voice control for the lights, they’re less likely to use the Wink app for the same feature. But if they don’t use the Wink app, how will they know when the Lookout Alerts are on or off?

A perfect example is me going to bed and turning Alerts On. My son often works late shifts nearby and sometimes he drives back to his mom’s house after work. Occasionally, he drives to my house because it’s closer and he’s tired. I can easily envision the entire house woken up by the Siren when he comes in at 1am. Of course, you don’t have automate the Siren like I did in my testing. You can simply be woken by the Alert notification and decide what to do next.

Unfortunately — and maybe it’s just me, although I doubt it — I turn my phone’s Do Not Disturb (DND) function on before going to sleep. And that means I won’t get the alert if my son, or a random stranger, comes in. I suspect most people in that regard are like me, either manually enabling DND or scheduling it during sleep hours: The time you most want your home monitored for any break-ins.

The system works, but will it work the way you want it to?

Again, Wink Lookout works as advertised and it’s very possible that my use case is uniquely different than most other peoples. However, I think there’s a missing piece here for a more appealing product: Some type of connected keypad with a 10 second delay so you can get in the house and disarm the system, or even an NFC swipe tag and reader to accomplish the same thing.

Regardless of my own home, if you’re looking for an inexpensive smart home security system that provides you with total actionable control, Wink Lookout is worth the look. There’s no monthly service fee and the sensors work well at detecting motion and creating notification alerts. And there’s the added bonus of being able to build out your smarthome system with all of the other Wink-supported products, so in some regards, this is a nice two-for-one kit.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Wink announces Lookout, a $199 home security system without monthly fees

Following the recent onslaught of home security systems from Nest, SmartThings, and Ring, Wink is throwing its name into the game and announcing Wink Lookout. The Lookout kit will cost $ 199, which is more in line with Ring’s pricing, but it doesn’t ask for any monthly subscription fees. That’s both a plus and a minus.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at the kit. It comes with the Wink Hub 2 ($ 99), two open/close door and window sensors ($ 29 each), one motion sensor with adjustable sensitivity ($ 39), and one siren and chime with a built-in ring of LED lights and 10 selectable sounds ($ 39).

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