U.N. Hosts Climate and Health Scientists at Plenary on Vision of Future Pandemic Preparedness

Feb 6, 2023

As the United States ends the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration — despite facing 500 deaths per day — a group of scientists and academics are gathering to present to the United Nations, calling for an early warning system for future outbreaks.

NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- As part of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly Plenary on Tuesday, the U.N. will hear briefings from eminent scientists and academics on sustainable global solutions regarding "economics of water," "climate, conflict, and cooperation" and "early warning for pandemic preparedness."

Amid widespread dismantling of many infectious disease surveillance systems established during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic preparedness panel is highlighting ongoing and emerging threats. These threats include sustained risk from SARS-CoV-2, as well as the risk posed by novel infections, zoonotic spillover, and increasing rates of drug-resistant pathogens.

Changes in climate, land use, and growing international travel are further contributing to increases in global infectious disease threats. According to the presenters, there is a clear need for a new global early warning system for pandemics with novel approaches for sharing data across nations. This system needs to be climate change informed and incorporate data from genomics, epidemiology, satellites, and social media to drive analytics and predictive models flagging emerging threats.

"The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for distributed genomics technologies, rapid analytics, and data-sharing," said Dr. Chris Mason, a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine and cofounder of Biotia. "This is especially powerful when applied to infectious disease, since localized threats can go global." Dr. Mason is also the founder of MetaSUB, a consortium of researchers using genomics to characterize the urban microbiome of over 60 cities across the world.

"This needs to be an international effort," added Dr. Niamh O'Hara, CEO and cofounder of Biotia. "Pathogens cross borders, so collaboration and data should also seamlessly move internationally between scientists, physicians and policymakers. It is essential to build global collaboration, resources, and technology to support these efforts."

With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, Biotia has recently provided funds for researchers working on biosurveillance in eight countries across four continents.

The panel of presenting scientists includes Dr. James Golden from The Rockefeller Foundation (U.S.); Dr. Niamh O'Hara from SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and Biotia (U.S.); Dr. Rafael Maciel-de-Freitas from Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz and Institute for Tropical Medicine (Brazil, Germany); Dr. Soojin Jang from Institut Pasteur (Korea); and Dr. Charles Vörösmarty from City University of New York (U.S.).

The event will be webcast with the Pandemic Preparedness session on Tuesday starting at 3 p.m. EST at https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1p/k1p7keefgv.

About Biotia

Biotia is a health-tech company located in New York, NY, that leverages sequencing-based technology and proprietary AI-powered software to rapidly and accurately identify microorganisms and antimicrobial resistance. Their mission is to fight infectious diseases by deploying the leading reference library of microbes worldwide. As a spinout company of Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, Biotia has a New York State CLIA lab for infectious disease diagnostics testing affiliated with SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. Connect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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