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07.17.2012 20:21    Comments: 0    Categories: Default      Tags: gvn  global virus network  emed  

World’s Leading Virus Researchers Warn

‘We Are Not Prepared for a Global Virus Crisis’

Global Virus Network Conference Identifies Greatest Threats To Public Health

New York, NY: Members of the Global Virus Network (GVN), which include foremost experts in every category of virus, and representing more than 20 countries, recently concluded a conference in Naples, Italy. Members presented current research, identified the most serious and imminent global virus threats to public health, and discussed both what is required and how to best deal with these viruses.

The members of the Global Virus Network identified viruses transferred from animals to humans, such as avian and swine influenzas, as the most imminent and potentially pandemic threats to public health. Dr. Ilaria Capua of Italy’s Veterinary Public Health Institute (IZSVe), and a leading researcher of animal-borne viruses, warned that the rapid spread of what is presently a mild form of avian flu (H9N2) is combining with a far more virulent and deadly form of avian flu, which could cause the emergence of a lethal chimeric virus. “We are sitting on a ticking time bomb, and it is imperative that the members of the Global Virus Network advocate for funding to increase surveillance and research in this field,” said Dr. Capua.

The members of the Global Virus Network also determined that nature, not humans, is the public’s foremost bioterrorism threat. Dr. Ab Osterhaus, Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands said, “The recent claim that publishing a paper on bird flu would provide terrorists with a means to kill is absurd, and frankly, just not possible for terrorists to recreate. We must remember that all of these dangerous flu mutations are already present in regions of Southeast Asia.” Osterhaus added, “What is most important is that scientists work together on these issues, which is exactly the function the GVN serves. In this way, the relevant mutations in the virus could be spotted in humans as soon as they emerge.” Additionally, one of the world’s foremost influenza experts, Dr. Peter Palese of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, said “We must share information and early results so we can develop safe and effective vaccine – anything less is useless.”

Dr. Rino Rappuoli, Global Head of Vaccines Research at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics based in Siena, Italy, spoke about his foundation he launched to supply vaccines against diseases that particularly target poor populations. Rappuoli presented an inspiring talk about how vaccines have made the biggest contribution to the increased life expectancy that we enjoy today and to our modern quality of life. He said, “Everyone should be vaccinated. Anything less than total global vaccination could result in the emergence of a catastrophic outbreak from a mutated virus.”

“It is only a matter of time before our next virus epidemic or even pandemic,” said Dr. Robert C. Gallo, who is Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is most widely known for co-discovering HIV and developing the HIV blood test. “We are not yet adequately prepared for new and existing viral threats, and our mission at the GVN is to fill that gap. The GVN represents leading experts and researchers in every classification of human virus, and is uniquely capable of assisting governments and organizations in focusing their resources on research and public policy to address viruses which pose a serious and imminent threat to public health.”

The GVN was co-founded in March 2011 by Gallo, currently Chair of GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board, and by Dr. Reinhard Kurth of the Ernst Schering Foundation in Germany and Dr. William Hall of University College Dublin in Ireland. GVN will seamlessly share information through cutting-edge technology including developing a virtual bio bank and developing a Rapid Action Fund to provide resources for research of the most dangerous, high-risk pathogens. Additionally, the GVN seeks to build and maintain clinics adjoined to bio-containment facilities in six of the world’s continents, as well as a Global Rapid Response Research Team, to be mobilized in the event of viral threats. Lastly, the GVN will sponsor fellows who are expected to conduct high-priority research in medical virology at GVN Centers.

“Scholarly exchange is fundamental to international collaborations that will link our activities far into the future,” said Gallo. “GVN scientists will also have the unique opportunity to move between centers to implement research programs or bring specific expertise to a local problem.”


The GVN will meet again October 17-19 in Baltimore, Maryland and next spring in Munich, Germany.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is an independent, not for profit organization, comprised of leading medical virologists from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The GVN is a global authority and resource for the identification and investigation, interpretation and explanation, control and suppression, of viral diseases posing threats to mankind. The GVN enhances the international capacity for reactive, proactive and interactive activities that address mankind-threatening viruses. The GVN addresses a global need for coordinated virology training, developing scholarly exchange programs for recruiting and training young scientists in medical virology. The GVN serves as a resource to governments and international organizations seeking advice about viral disease threats, prevention or response strategies. The GVN advocates research and training on virus infections and their many disease manifestations, and acts as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of information to authorities, scientific communities and the world publics.



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