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The four viruses that could trigger the next pandemic in Australia

The four viruses worrying scientists may cause Australia’s next pandemic

  • CSIRO calls on Australia to improve its virus research to protect the country
  • Organization has made 20 recommendations to strengthen preparedness for a pandemic
  • Among those outlined were improving research on four virus families
  • They believe these families are most likely to become future pandemics

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Australia’s leading scientific organization has called for a boost to virus research and vaccine production to future-proof the country against pandemics.

In a new report, the health agency outlined 20 recommendations for what Australia should do to bolster pandemic preparedness, building on its experience with COVID-19.

One of the recommendations was to improve research on five virus families that have the greatest potential to become future pandemics.

Australia's leading scientific organization has called for a boost to virus research and vaccine production to future-proof the country against pandemics

Australia’s leading scientific organization has called for a boost to virus research and vaccine production to future-proof the country against pandemics

Scientists have also identified the need to diversify the types of vaccines made in Australia in order to be better prepared.

“The absence of manufacturing capabilities for various vaccine technologies reduces Australia’s ability to produce vaccines onshore for an emerging viral threat,” the report said.

“Australian companies face barriers such as high input costs and a small population for clinical trial enrollment.”

The CSIRO report also called for an expansion of screening for commercially available therapeutic antiviral drugs that could be used as treatments, along with the establishment of a central database of therapies.

The report’s recommendations came after discussions with more than 140 industry, research and government experts.

The report’s findings also identified inconsistencies with diagnostic requirements, which had to be diversified due to increased demands on labs during pandemics.

A lack of national coordination in genomic analysis was also identified, with calls to establish a national authority and develop national data standards.

Most Worrying Viruses to Cause Next Pandemics

Orthomyxoviridae – Influenza (transmitted by animals and humans)

Highly contagious because transmission to humans can take place via aerosols and droplets.217. Viruses in this family in particular are prone to mutate quickly and efficiently to generate new strains.218. Viruses in this family have caused epidemics and pandemics in humans in the past.

Paramyxoviridae – Nipah virus infection, Hendra virus disease (transmitted from animals and humans)

Largely respiratory viruses that are transmitted by aerosols and contaminated surfaces. Historically high morbidity and mortality in humans. Hendra virus disease currently poses a risk of infection from horses in northeastern parts of Australia. New variants of Hendra virus have been identified in host animals with a wider geographic distribution.

Phenuiviridae – Rift Valley fever (transmitted by arthropods and human contact through blood and organs)

Highly pathogenic in humans, animals and plants. Can be challenging to control transmission given the range of arthropod vectors.

Togaviridae/Alfaviruses – Chikungunya fever, Ross River fever, Eastern equine encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis (transmitted by arthropods, especially blood-sucking spieces)

Infections are seasonal and are acquired in endemic areas. Ross River fever is the most common insect-borne viral illness in Australia.

In a new report, the CSIRO outlined 20 recommendations for what Australia should do to bolster pandemic preparedness

In a new report, the CSIRO outlined 20 recommendations for what Australia should do to bolster pandemic preparedness

In a new report, the CSIRO outlined 20 recommendations for what Australia should do to bolster pandemic preparedness

LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:

Victoria: 2,950 cases, 18 deaths, 337 hospitalized with 22 in ICU

NSW: 4,271 cases, 37 deaths, 1,834 hospitalized with 40 in ICU

QLD: 2404 cases, 18 deaths, 319 hospitalized with 10 in ICU

WA: 1,277 cases, one death, 234 in hospital with five in ICU

SA: 685 cases, three deaths, 129 in hospital with seven in ICU

Tasmania: 259 cases, no deaths, 30 hospitalized with one in ICU

ACT: 202 cases, no deaths, 100 hospitalized with one in ICU

NT: 116 cases, no deaths, 21 in hospital and none in ICU.

“Australia faces restrictions on data sharing due to the varying governance of health systems within and across jurisdictions,” the report said.

‘This limits timely and well-informed policy decisions, especially during pandemics.’

The CSIRO said the report’s findings were critical given the rise in viral disease outbreaks over the past century.

“On average, two new viruses appear in humans every year, and the proportion leading to larger outbreaks is increasing,” the report said.

“The increasing spread of viruses from animal populations over the past 100 years has been largely driven by environmental destruction, climate change, urbanization, human degradation of natural habitats and increased global trade and travel.”

The report’s publication comes after Australia surpassed 10 million total COVID cases.

A further 8,704 cases were identified nationally on Monday, with 11 deaths.

The National Cabinet will discuss a proposal on Wednesday to lower the mandatory isolation requirements for people with COVID-19 from seven to five days.

The Health Services Union on Tuesday called on the federal government to scrap the mandatory isolation period altogether.

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