New consortium launched to prepare for emerging threats

A group of health organizations launched a new international consortium on Wednesday to better prepare clinical researchers to respond to the next pandemic or other emerging threat to public health.
The International Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Consortium is made up of more than 20 hospital-based clinical research networks and has the goal of putting into place data-sharing processes, ethical frameworks and open-access protocols to streamline the response to rapidly emerging deadly diseases, CIDRAP News reports.
Jeremy Farrar, the chair of the consortium, said that clinical research is a key element in the response to new pandemics and epidemics.
"The processes needed to initiate clinical studies and share data and samples effectively can take time to establish, but the faster we can react and the more trust we have built before the outbreak, the more effective will be our response and the more lives we can potentially save," Farrar said, according to CIDRAP News. "By bringing together the many existing clinical research networks around the globe, by pooling the expertise across many countries, we can lay down the groundwork so that we are better prepared as a clinical community."
By developing and implementing standardized protocols, data-sharing processes, metrics and using pre-approved, open-access methods, the consortium can more quickly respond to epidemics. The consortium will allow researchers on different continents to discuss cases that don't meet standard diagnostic criteria and compare notes.
According to James Kazura, the new president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the model could be applied to other disease categories as well, like encephalitis. In addition, the system could save costs.
"So that there are not as many blind alleys to go down (in clinical research)," Kazura said, according to CIDRAP News.