Friday, December 16, 2016

A New Approach to Virus Prevention - Seek Them Out

A New Approach to Virus Prevention - Find Them Before They Find You

I was very intrigued by this article, titled "Finding the World's Unknown Viruses - Before They Find Us." This article described a new and innovative way to target virus prevention; rather than waiting for viruses to emerge and then develop vaccines, scientists are hoping to catalogue unknown viruses FIRST, identify which ones are the biggest threats (with mathematical modeling, public health experts etc), and then prepair to fight these viruses! This entire project is part of the Global Virome Project, which comprised of a team of virologists and doctors from around the globe. The organizers predict that to map out 99% of viral threats would cost $3.4 billiondollars!

While $3.4 billion does seem like a lot, this project could truly end up protecting millions and millions of people and perhaps end up saving billions of dollars in the future! There is currently a pilot PREDICT project funded by USAID in the worlds, which has already discovered 1,000 new viruses. I would be curious to learn about the results of PREDICT's work (which has been around for the past 7 years), and see if it has actually made actually predictions.

Nevertheless, this article gives me great hope that we will, as an international community, work to be able to try and prevent huge epidemics - by nipping viruses in the bud BEFORE they drastically affect billions of people. As one of the lead scientists of this project, Dennis Carroll from USAID describes, "let data drive a much more robust line of investment against risk, not just what it is that’s kicking the door in at the moment.”

Ashley Jowell

Source: https://www.statnews.com/2016/12/13/world-viruses-global-virome-project/ (December 13, 2016).

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