Peruse NIAID’s New Pandemic Preparedness Plan

Funding News Edition: March 02, 2022
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You may be aware that NIAID has for decades launched major research responses and developed medical countermeasures to combat multiple emerging infectious diseases, such as SARS-CoV-1, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Ebola virus, and most recently SARS-CoV-2.

With the new NIAID Pandemic Preparedness Plan, released in December 2021 and informed by the November 2021 NIAID Workshop on Pandemic Preparedness: The Prototype Pathogen Approach To Accelerate Medical Countermeasures, the Institute directs its preparedness efforts on priority and prototype pathogens.

Given the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the Plan may be of particular interest. We encourage you to take a look.

One Plan, Three Goals

The Plan’s goals are to:

  1. Systematically characterize pathogens of concern and increase research and surveillance to identify threats before they emerge
  2. Shorten timelines between pathogen emergence or outbreak onset and authorization/approval of candidate diagnostics and medical countermeasures, such as therapeutics and vaccines
  3. Bridge or eliminate existing gaps in research, infrastructure, and technology and expand preclinical and clinical testing capacity

Priority and Prototype Pathogen Research

Given that there are approximately 120 viruses known to cause human disease, it is infeasible to fully characterize them and develop medical countermeasures (MCMs) for each. Therefore, selecting representative viruses in advance from each family offers a viable pathway to gain knowledge as well as develop and test candidate countermeasures that may apply to part or all of a particular virus family.

NIAID will focus on priority pathogens, which include pathogens that are anticipated to emerge or continue to present public health threats (e.g., influenza virus, SARS-CoV-2, Ebola virus). Prototype pathogens are representative viruses from viral groups of pandemic potential whose characterization will be used to develop MCM solutions, such as vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, applicable to itself and other emerging or re-emerging viruses in the same viral group.

Additional Areas Covered in the Plan

In addition to information on priority and prototype pathogens, the Pandemic Preparedness Plan covers topics such as preparedness research and development and cross-cutting preparedness efforts.

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