WHO calls for research to ensure preparedness for major epidemics

29 June, 2016

WHO calls for urgent research and development into a list of emerging pathogens it considers most likely to cause major epidemics in the future.

A WHO panel of scientists and public health experts identified eight diseases for which few or no medical countermeasures are available, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

WHO is developing a blueprint to accelerate research and development into these pathogens to improve diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. The blueprint will also consider behavioural interventions, and fill critical gaps in scientific knowledge.

In Europe, there is currently no framework for ensuring that clinical research is a core part of a response to an epidemic. When an infectious disease breaks out, it is therefore challenging to implement clinical research to investigate a rapidly emerging infection. ERS is a partner in the PREPARE (Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-) emerging Epidemics) project which will provide real-time evidence on how to manage patients and inform public health responses to outbreaks.