New report highlights the technology key to fighting future pandemics

MELBOURNE, Australia, Aug. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has outlined the science and technology that can help improve resilience to future pandemics, reduce their economic impact and protect communities.

The Strengthening Australia’s Pandemic Preparedness report makes 20 recommendations that could support the Indo-Pacific region by reducing pandemic impacts while improving economic, social and health outcomes.

The report demonstrates how a more efficient and technology-enabled health system can act as an infectious disease early warning system, allow new treatments to be developed and deployed quickly, let patients be diagnosed and treated sooner, ensure the security of our vaccine supply, and better inform decision making.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than a million deaths in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said CSIRO is committed to strengthening the resilience of the Indo-Pacific region against infectious diseases.

“As infectious disease continues to grow in frequency and impact, science can prepare us for what’s ahead as well as drive our recovery and resilience to protect our people and secure our future prosperity.”

The six key science and technology areas identified are:

Preclinical capabilities for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics enabling faster development  Onshore vaccine manufacturing across a diverse range of vaccine technologies, ensuring vaccine supply Therapeutics repurposing and novel antivirals Point of care diagnostics for case identification Genomic analysis of pathogens and their variants Data sharing for informing response strategies

The report suggests focusing research on five virus families likely to cause future pandemics: Coronaviridae (e.g., COVID), Flaviviridae (e.g., Dengue), Orthomyxoviridae (e.g., Influenza), Paramyxoviridae (e.g., Nipah) and Togaviridae (e.g., Chikungunya fever).

While developing the report CSIRO consulted 146 experts from 66 organisations across government, industry, and the research sector. They pointed to ways in which science and technology can complement effective, short-term strategies such as lockdowns and border closures while mitigating their significant social, health and economic costs.

“The science and technologies highlighted in the report point to innovative ways to improve resilience”, said CSIRO’s Dr Michelle Baker. “CSIRO is focused on partnering with governments, industry and the research sector to protect the Indo-Pacific region and ensure it is prepared for future pandemics.”

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