Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Real-time info key to tackling epidemics


By conducting the right science and communicating expert judgement, researchers can help policymakers tackle epidemics such as the current swine flu  — influenza A(H1N1) — outbreak, say Harvey V. Fineberg and Mary Elizabeth Wilson in an editorial in Science.

The authors argue that, in the face of a potential pandemic, policymakers need real-time information on pandemic risk, vulnerable populations, available interventions, implementation options and drawbacks, and public awareness.

Scientists can help — for example tracking epidemiological patterns and viral mutations can help refine pandemic risk estimates, while a range of laboratory, epidemiologic and social science research will be needed to answer questions about vulnerable populations or interventions to prevent and treat disease.

Attempts to tackle the current A(H1N1) outbreak have benefited from years of research investment and preparedness exercises across the world, say the authors. Researchers can now contribute to decision-making in real time — the causative virus for influenza A(H1N1) and its genetic sequence, for example, were identified within days.

Government agency leaders must ensure that the right scientific questions are answered, says the editorial. And scientists must "energetically pursue science in real time".

Link to full article in Science

We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.