Frontrunner project: Integrated early-warning surveillance methods and tools
To be effectively prepared for any subsequent pandemic, the early detection of new virus outbreaks is essential. That is why we need to be able to identify critical focal points that could play a role in the spread of viruses. Surveillance needs to be rapidly deployable and widely integrated. Think of bioinformatics, innovative sampling methods, detection, metagenomics, and social media data mining.
Although various methods are already being used to gain a better understanding of people, animals and goods, virus outbreaks and transport routes, these data are not being combined or used for pandemic intelligence.
This Frontrunner project aims to contribute to the early and risk-based detection and characterization of new viruses. We will monitor these viruses within the context of the Netherlands given its role as a hub in the complex global transport and trading network.
One of our most significant challenges is to ensure that data is consistent, valid, and representative. We also must consider the organization of access to data, privacy, and ethical considerations. We sample drinking water, animal manure, dust on surfaces and wastewater. We investigate methods for representative sampling and obtaining sufficient virus material in an effective and reproducible way.
We will work with several stakeholders, including local and national healthcare organizations, port authorities and Customs in our Living Lab. This collaboration allows us to validate and translate our results into necessary actions.