Pandemic crisis prediction and management: what are the challenges?

Communicable diseases have the potential to result in serious cross-border public health threats. In recent years, cases including the pandemic influenza (2009), the Ebola virus (2014), the Zika virus (2016) and COVID-19 (2020), have demonstrated that new infections may have an international, if not a global impact. Therefore, the response and management of these crises involves the coordinated of a number of organisations and authorities across countries.  

Differences in legal, administrative, professional and political cultures, as well as the lack of transboundary crisis management structures can result in poor disaster response. For example, difficulty detecting threats, understanding current circumstances and making joint decisions in an emergency scenario, may mean loss of lives, especially when affected countries do not share borders, or fall outside of the European Union, where EU solutions do not operate. 

Improving preparedness and response to pandemics

How can we improve pandemic crisis management across organisations, both within and between countries? 

The STAMINA project will develop a decision support tool and policy guidelines to better equip pandemic crises management practitioners at national and regional levels to anticipate and respond to public health crises 

The STAMINA project will support transboundary pandemic management by:   

  • Mapping existing pandemic emergency frameworks to highlight areas for improvement  
  • Developing the STAMINA toolset, a decision support tool that includes: 
  • Predictive modelling for pandemic diseases, which identifies how the current burden of a pandemic disease could be spread over temporal and spatial scales, and provides viable response options 
  • Machine learning-based Early Warning System, which creates alerts in case of potential outbreaks
  • Real-time web and social media analytics, used to flag possible disease outbreaks
  • Scenario generation tool, for the creation of simulation exercises for training of employees of national planners and first responders 
  • Crisis Management tool, for assisting strategic advisors before and during a crisis  
  • Developing and deploying point-of-care diagnostic tools for rapid detection of emerging diseases
  • Generating guidelines on effective implementation of risk management principles and best practices in cross-organisational preparedness and response planning  

The STAMINA tool set will be tested in 12 participating nations: Greece, Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey, Lithuania, Tunisia, UK, Slovenia, Austria, Netherlands, Spain and France. 

Ethical, legal and social impact assessment to ensure sustainable innovation

Trilateral manages research ethics and data protection within the project. Trilateral considers the extent to which development of the STAMINA system may pose ethical risks, and what measures are needed to mitigate unwanted negative impact. Trilateral is also responsible for the project’s Data Management Plan, to ensure the project is in compliance with the GDPR standards. 

Technology Development to Support Pandemic Management

Trilateral’s data science team develop a real-time web and social media analytics tool to monitor public trust and flag possible disease outbreaks. The aim of the tool is to monitor web searches, news and social media for mentions of the outbreaks of disease, and classify social media status updates to identify key reliable accounts for monitoring the quality of information, and enable more informed decision-making at a policy level.

Enhancing Impact: raising awareness and facilitating engagement

Trilateral works on enhancing the project findings by creation a network including policy makers, technical experts, media, health care workers and first responders to reach out to all relevant stakeholders’ communities, facilitating novel collaborations, amplifying STAMINA’s results, and encouraging the uptake of the STAMINA toolset by pandemic response teams and healthcare professionals. 

For more information and updates visit the project website and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 883441.

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