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Pandemics: learning from the past – anticipating the future

The COVID pandemic pushed us into new ways of doing things: novel approaches to vaccine development, fast-tracking the use of AI to help spot patterns in large amounts of data and innovative ways of using tech to track outbreaks. So, what have we learned and how can that help us in the future?

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We hit the ground running in the COVID pandemic and EU support for scientific research helped projects develop responses rapidly and effectively. Which may be just as well. Avian influenza is having a devastating impact on bird populations and has been passed onto mammal populations. The Peruvian government reports that since November 2022 one third of the country’s sea lions have succumbed; 3 487 dead sea lions have been found. While the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control assesses the risk to the general population in the EU as low, it is low to moderate for occupationally or otherwise exposed people. Influenza viruses evolve, and the future is hard to predict. Getting funding to where it can be most effectively used, understanding the mechanisms behind public perception and behaviour, and gathering a living archive of viruses used by the scientific community across the world – in this episode we are looking at the innovations which are ready to support responses to what might be coming next. Marina Brito is a business strategic relations officer based at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory in Portugal. Her INNO4COV-19 project helped get innovative solutions out of the lab and onto the ground in months. Máire Connolly is professor of Global Health at the University of Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. The PANDEM-2 project she coordinated, developed a prototype IT system to enhance planning, situational awareness and decision support for pandemic management. They are joined by professor of Health Biotechnology and Virology at Aix-Marseille University in France, Bruno Coutard, the coordinator of the European Virus Archive EVA-GLOBAL, which identifies, collects and distributes viruses and related, non-infectious materials for the scientific community.

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CORDIScovery, CORDIS, INNO4COV-19, EVA-GLOBAL, PANDEM-2, COVID, avian influenza, virus, responses