The corona crisis is barely over, and the next pandemic threat is already knocking at the door. The world is currently dealing with the largest recorded avian influenza outbreak ever. ‘The spread amongst birds is unprecedented. Before 2020 we primarily focused on Asia regarding the avian flu; now, the threat of this highly pathogenic virus has changed dramatically. The virus has even spilt over to mammals a few times, such as at a mink farm in Spain, which makes a spillover to humans not unthinkable. In addition, a yet unknown pathogen could also cause the next pandemic’, Koopmans said.
European experts are therefore joining forces within the DURABLE project (Delivering a Unified Research Alliance of Biomedical and public health Laboratories against Epidemics). The multidisciplinary consortium brings together European laboratories and experts researching emerging infectious diseases that could cause epidemics and pandemics. The project enables rapid cooperation across national borders. Koopmans: ‘We provide timely scientific information and translate it into societal advice.’
The DURABLE project will receive 25 million euros from the EU4Health program. DURABLE will support the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) in responding to health risks for European citizens. Institut Pasteur is the coordinator of the project. In addition to Marion Koopmans, other Rotterdam virologists such as Ron Fouchier and Bart Haagmans are joining DURABLE.