We could have prevented the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak from developing into a pandemic, but we did not have an adequate surveillance system that could detect novel threats, particularly those that can be carried by asymptomatic carriers. Existing surveillance programs are syndromic, and pathogen based. These are not ideal for the detection of novel threats and are not able to prevent asymptomatic carriers from silently spreading pathogens. PerkinElmer seeks to establish a global surveillance center of excellence to support a network of labs and other facilities, employing a three-pronged surveillance model comprising surveillance, early warning, and intervention/containment to prevent future pandemics, such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Zoonotic Spillover Tracking Mechanism
Firstly, surveillance will enable a zoonotic spillover tracking mechanism at the source of global hotspots. Zoonotic disease spillover, which caused the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, is the origin of most pandemics. These potential sources include animals (wildlife in human proximity, livestock, and poultry), humans, water sources, pastures, and animal processing sites. Multi-pronged specimen collection and processing strategies will be employed, including analysis of food content, respiratory swabs, surface swabs, sputum, urine, and wastewater. Additionally, a multi-pronged technology strategy deployed across next generation sequencing, real time polymerase chain reaction, mass spectrometry, and infrared spectroscopy platforms will be effectively used to take a multiomics approach for promptly tackling outbreaks.
Pathogen Early Warning System
The second component of the surveillance model is an early warning system that will identify and characterize progressively dangerous pathogens based on their ability to survive in human hosts, be transmitted from human to human, and progress to a pathogenic state.
Pathogen Intervention and Containment
Lastly, the intervention and containment measures in place will enable the prompt identification of at-risk populations and will utilize existing infrastructure, such as Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) or FluNet, to monitor, share data, and send alerts about potential pathogens. Rapid disease characterization will be used to drive quarantine and treatment recommendations.