Words: Dr Ciara Dangerfield
The Infectious Dynamics of Pandemics programme was held virtually at INI from May till December 2020. It was set up in record time to support mathematical modelling of COVID-19 which was informing the ongoing pandemic response at the time.
Following on from the final workshop of the IDP programme on ‘Future Pandemics’, a series of working groups were set up to identify challenges for future pandemics in 10 key areas: human-wildlife interface, emergence, elimination versus endemicity, interventions, vaccinations, inference, modelling, data, economics and policy. The results of these discussions are a special issue of the journal Epidemics on the Challenges for Future Pandemics.
The IDP programme provided researchers working at the forefront of the pandemic response the opportunity to connect with the wider research community, allowing space to consider the key challenges scientists across the world were facing. The outputs of the IDP programme are an important record of the primary challenges we must overcome to be better prepared for the next pandemic.
~ Deirdre Hollingsworth (Lead organiser, IDP programme)
In addition to the 10 challenge papers, two expository papers detail potential solutions to the challenges raised in the areas of inference and data.
The Challenges for Future Pandemics special issue builds on a collection of papers in the journal Epidemics from an INI programme in 2013 (Infectious Dynamics of Diseases) and follow-up meeting in 2014 on this area. The previous collection, while broader in scope, included much that is relevant to pandemics and provides an opportunity to reflect on pandemic challenges the research community did, and more importantly, did not anticipate. It is hoped that this new special collection will help researchers in this area focus on research priorities so that we can be better prepared for future pandemics.