Learning from a Crisis – Avian Influenza

Looking back on April 17, 2024, PDPC carried out a dynamic simulation of an Avian Influenza crisis in the Netherlands. The scenario depicted a variant of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza virus spreading through pigs, triggering significant health impacts for both humans and animals. The participants, an interdisciplinary team of scientists, spanning biomedical (veterinary and human), social, and economic sciences, started to explore the development of integrated advice crucial for going through such crises.

Throughout the day, biomedical, social and economic experts initially came up with their recommendations independently, aligning with the prevailing governance framework for scientific advice during outbreaks in the Netherlands. As the day progressed, interdisciplinary groups came together to forge integral advice. Remarkably, most groups emerged with a comprehensive set of recommendations tailored to address the scenario’s challenges.

It was evident that various disciplines brought forth insights gleaned from their respective sectors, informed by hard-earned lessons from past experiences, for example with outbreaks in animal husbandry, human health crises, and the social repercussions of measures like COVID-related school closures. These diverse backgrounds not only influenced the values and priorities emphasized but also colored the discussions with discipline-specific vocabularies. Overall, promoting open dialogue and cultivating curiosity for alternative disciplinary perspectives emerged as critical factors for achieving integral advice.

As the simulation ended, participants appreciated the experience as valuable preparation for confronting a national crisis like Avian Influenza. Their enthusiasm was clear as they expressed a collective eagerness to further refine approaches for integrated advice. Indeed, the journey continues, with more opportunities ahead to enhance our readiness for the challenges that may arise.

On the 24th of May, we will have a second simulation day that will also focus on Avian Influenza but then we will look at a scenario that discusses human-to-human transmission.

This initiative builds upon last year’s ‘Learning from a Crisis’ event. For more details, read the full report here.