A Statement from the Global Virus Network (GVN) on the Need for Innovative Strategies to Mitigate SARS-CoV-2 Variants and Expand Vaccination Strategies

BaltimoreMaryland, USA, January 15, 2021: As hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19 continue to surge around the world, it will be imperative to quickly distribute the vaccines that are proven to at least show short-term protection and overall safety. Combining vaccine distribution to protective measures (mask, physical distancing and hand washing) and novel approaches to treatment, offers, for the first time since the beginning of this pandemic, valid hope in mitigating the virus outbreak and returning the world to normal life. Yet, there are hurdles and challenges to overcome, namely, the emergence of viral variants and the potential shortage of vaccine doses. In this context, experts of the Global Virus Network (GVN) are joining forces and expertise to address these points and offer solutions.

The Mutations

The rapid global spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants that have emerged from the UK and South Africa have brought great concern.  Epidemiological and modeling studies have shown their increased transmissibility, yet, these studies also show that the new variants do not significantly affect disease severity and mortality. These variants contain several mutations. Importantly, the two variants contain the N501Y mutation in the spike protein that can increase binding affinity of the virus to its host receptor, ACE2. Moreover, the variant from South Africa shows the E484K mutation that might, at least theoretically, enable the virus to escape the host’s immune response.

GVN experts are studying how these mutations affect currently available vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. A recent study showed that the 501Y mutation did not drastically affect the activity of neutralizing antibodies in convalescent serum. The effect of the E484K mutation on immune evasion and reinfection is currently characterized by using convalescent sera. The front-runner vaccine companies, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, have stated that their vaccines can be effective against these variants. Since the vaccines are designed to elicit robust levels of polyclonal neutralizing antibodies, these minor changes may not greatly reduce protective efficacy of vaccines. However, this needs to be evaluated by using live viruses of variants. Also, a most important question regarding current and future vaccines is their impact on cellular immunity — which should be key for controlling the emergence of such variants. For diagnostics, the mutations in the spike proteins might lead to a failure in RT-PCR assay, and thus, targeting the consensus sequences for primer design would be required.

The Vaccine Strategies

Other than the development of mutations, another challenge relates to the potential shortage of doses in the context of mass vaccination programs to curb the current pandemic. Since last December, several COVID-19 vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by regulators. These vaccines so far require two doses of vaccinations. Limited capacity by vaccine manufacturers are making it difficult to secure sufficient doses of vaccines to rapidly vaccinate as many people as possible and stop viral transmission. To boost their effort, the UK government has altered the vaccination regimen with the second dose of both vaccines being postponed to 12 weeks (as opposed to the recommend 21 and 28 days respectively) after the first dose. Other countries are also considering the same strategy.

GVN’s Collective Expert Opinion and Recommendations

GVN experts emphasize the need to urgently obtain data and evidence-based decisions on the strategy to extend the second dose timing to 12 weeks, or beyond what has already been tested in clinical trials. Indeed, GVN experts have several concerns about protective efficacy, vaccine safety and generation of new variants. Thus, GVN recommends additional and innovative studies to address several other possibilities for overcoming the shortage of vaccines and also to reinforce vaccine efficacy and duration of effect, such as using: (1) half the amount of vaccine for prime and boost vaccinations  (2) heterologous prime and boost immunization by a combination of a COVID-19 vaccine and a non-specific effect of vaccine (i.e., BCG and oral poliovirus vaccine), and (3) heterologous prime and boost immunization by a combination of different COVID-19 vaccines (i.e., use of Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines). GVN suggests launching well-designed clinical studies immediately so that the world can quickly learn which strategy is most effective. Experts in GVN Centers and Affiliates stand ready to collaborate and evaluate these vaccine strategies and extend their collective efforts to generate novel therapeutics.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, existing and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprising eminent human and animal virologists from 61 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation of virologists, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

ROBERT GALLO OF THE UM SCHOOL OF MEDICINE INSTITUTE OF HUMAN VIROLOGY AND GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK AWARDED TOP LIFE SCIENCES AND MEDICINE PRIZE FROM CHINA

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, December 21, 2020: Robert C. Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, co-founder and director of the Institute Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and co-founder and international scientific advisor of the Global Virus Network, was awarded the “VCANBIO Award for Biosciences and Medicine,” a significant and authoritative award in the life sciences and medicine field of China.  The elite Prize is jointly presented by the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the VCANBIO CELL & GENE ENGINEERING CORP, LTD to push forward scientific research, technological innovation and continuous development in the life sciences and medicine field of China.

“The Prize also serves to facilitate the industrial development and application of innovative life science achievements,” said George F. Gao, DVM, DPHIL (OXON), Director General of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), Director, CAS Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology, Professor, Institute of Microbiology, Dean of the Medical School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of China’s Global Virus Network Center of Excellence.  “Dr. Gallo is a pioneer in virus research and most worthy of this Prize.  We are pleased to see him recognized by many members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

“Hosted by the Medical School of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, this award commends outstanding and innovative Chinese and foreign scientists, who have accomplished innovation achievements and breakthroughs in the life sciences and medicine field,” said Yiming Shao, MD, the Chief Expert on AIDS, China CDC, Director of the Division of Research on Virology and Immunology, National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, China and Member of the GVN SARS-CoV-2 Task Force and China GVN.  “I have worked with Dr. Gallo through the decades and admire his intellect and leadership, which have led to discoveries that have broad implications in protecting mankind from viral threats.  I am delighted that my Chinese colleagues are recognizing him with this significant honor.”

“Prof. Gallo has made a great deal of contribution to promote the Sino-American friendship and collaboration, especially for medical talent training and public health in China,” said Prof. Guanhua Xu, Chairman of the selection committee of the VCANBIO Award for Biosciences and Medicine.

“This is a tremendous and well-deserved honor for Dr. Gallo,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.  “Dr. Gallo has dedicated his career to building international collaborations that have produced major scientific discoveries in human virology, including with leading scientists and academic colleagues in China. As a result, the Institute of Human Virology continues to be recognized as the global leader in the fight against chronic viral diseases.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this esteemed Prize from my colleagues in China,” said Dr. Robert Gallo“I take this opportunity to stress that it is imperative that government and politics not interfere with science, and that my Chinese and American colleagues, who have a long history of collaborating together and contributing scientific breakthroughs to protect humanity from global health threats, continue to have the freedom to do so and to grow these collaborations.”

A Distinguished Scientific Career Advancing Global Health

Dr. Robert Gallo has long believed in the necessity of international cooperation and collaboration in medical sciences in general, and infectious diseases in particular, in part to build global friendships and advance humanitarian principles. Though entertainment and sports facilitate such connections he believes the “knots” are tied best through medical sciences. Throughout his 30 years at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and more recently his nearly 25 years at Baltimore’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, he has fostered these connections.  First, through his pioneering scientific discoveries including his discovery in 1976 of Interleukin-2, the first cytokine, a growth regulating substance now used as immune therapy in some cancers and in autoimmune diseases when suppressive T cells are needed.  Then in 1980, the first human retrovirus, HTLV-1, a cause of human leukemia and paralytic neurological diseases as well as severe inflammatory disorders, which is endemic in some regions such as parts of Africa, the Caribbean Islands, Japan, Aboriginal Australians, Iran and South America. Dr. Gallo and his team developed a blood test for HTLV-1 applicable to all countries which protects people receiving blood transfusions that would be contaminated with this virus. Similarly, in 1984, when he and his team co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS they also developed the HIV blood test for the world and made their reagents available to all.  Dr. Gallo and his team established collaborations in HIV/AIDS research, education, therapy and care for many African countries, particularly in Nigeria and some Caribbean nations. During the current pandemic he quickly became involved in initiating preventive measures against SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 disease through the idea of stimulating innate immunity with “live” virus vaccines such as the oral polio vaccine. Dr. Gallo, abetted by his collaborator, Konstantin Chumakov, PhD, Associate Director for Research for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Vaccines Research and Review and a GVN Center Director and his clinical colleague, Shyam Kottilil, MBBS, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Clinical Care and Research Division of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and senior advisor at the GVN, are advising on trials in India and in discussion about trials in Mexico, Brazil, Uzbekistan and China. He has also fostered the international nature of his research by hosting students beyond the U.S., including post-doctoral senior scientists from Asia, Middle East, Europe, the Americas and many African nations.

However, nothing demonstrates his concern for medical science cooperation more than when he established the idea for the Global Virus Network (GVN), which he co-founded in 2011 with the late Prof. Reinhard Kurth, MD, formerly Director of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, and Prof. William Hall, BSc, PhD, MD, DTMH, of University College Dublin. Now, GVN is headed by its President Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD.  The GVN was formed to advance medical and zoological science without any government influence, giving members of the GVN maximum freedom to speak freely while encouraging all nations to be involved. China, among several dozen other countries, has an active Center of Excellence within the GVN and was the site of the 7th meeting of the GVN in May 2015 held in Beijing and hosted by the late GVN Center Director, Zeng Yi of Beijing University of Technology. Experts shared information on varying viral threats, including those causing hemorrhagic fevers, hepatitis, HIV, measles, influenza, dengue and chikungunya, to name a few. GVN members also reviewed strategies at the center of the organization including the creation of specialized task forces and the launch of training programs to address growing viral threats.

A History with Chinese-American Collaborations

Dr. Gallo had a deep friendship with Dr. Robert Ting who came to the U.S. as a child refugee from Shanghai during the Japanese invasion. As a student, Dr. Ting worked with the famous Italian molecular biologist, Dr. Salvatore Luria at MIT, who won a Nobel Prize. Dr. Ting then went to Caltech to work with another Italian Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Renato Dulbecco and they were joined by two others who were soon to be Nobel Prize winners, Drs. Howard Temin and David Baltimore. Dr. Ting was not just Dr. Gallo’s friend but also his teacher by introducing him to Chinese culture and food, tennis, and the field of virology. Soon after meeting Dr. Ting, another Chinese-born and educated young man, Dr. Alan Wu, came to Dr. Gallo’s lab from Toronto bringing with him the knowledge and skills of blood stem cells. There were then several other Chinese post-doctoral fellows culminating with Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal from Canton Province and who played a very major role in advancing molecular biology on Dr. Gallo’s team for about 15 years. Dr. Nancy Chang, also Chinese, came as a visiting scientist on a few occasions. On one such time she was key to the development of the second-generation HIV blood test used around the world.

In 2009, with the help of a University of Maryland School of Medicine colleague, Dr. Richard Zhao, born in China and educated in the U.S., the Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS) announced the establishment of the Shandong Gallo Institute of Virology (SGIV). The announcement was made simultaneously with a ceremony to establish China’s first Molecular Diagnostic Center for Personalized Healthcare (MDCPH), which was a joint venture among the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Roche Diagnostics Asia Pacific and SGIV at the Shandong Academy of Medical Sciences. The mission of the SGIV is to promote the basic science of virology especially in the area of HIV/AIDS and other important and emerging viral diseases and to facilitate translational research and clinical trials for related diseases. SGIV also aims to provide molecular-based testing for disease diagnosis, prognosis and treatment in the area of individualized molecular testing for personalized medicine.

Since the founding of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), Dr. Gallo notes that several of his key science leaders at the Institute of Human Virology came from China, including: Dr. Wuyuan Lu (recent Director of the Division of Infectious Agents and Cancer), Dr. Yang Liu (recent Director of the Division of Immunotherapy), Dr. Pan Zheng (Division of Immunotherapy), Dr. Lishan Su (current Director of the Division of Virology, Pathogenesis and Cancer), Dr. Man Charurat (current Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention and Ciheb) and Dr. Lai-Xi Wang (formerly at IHV and now at University of Maryland, College Park).  With each of these leaders also came labs full of Chinese colleagues, who Dr. Gallo states contributed greatly to advancing America’s biomedical research.  Further, over the past six decades, Dr. Gallo visited China countless times to discuss potential collaborations with public and private sector entities, mentored rising Chinese scientists and facilitated open scientific discussions to advance the field of human virology, among other important things.

About the Institute of Human Virology

Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Medical System, the IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology, and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders – most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, visit www.ihv.org and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:
Nora Samaranayake
443-823-0613
[email protected]

 

GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK COMMENDS THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY FOR UNPRECEDENTED COVID-19 VACCINE ADVANCES

Recommends Large-scale Vaccination To Thwart The Pandemic

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, December 16, 2020:  The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprised of the world’s preeminent human and animal virologists from 59 Centers of Excellence and 10 Affiliates in 33 countries, working collaboratively in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that cause illness and death, commends the pharmaceutical industry for its unprecedented efforts and advances in developing vaccines to thwart the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The wait for a vaccine is over,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot, President of GVN and Professor at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine. “We applaud the latest developments in the vaccine rollout and implementation, and we commend the various governmental regulatory agencies around the world that have worked round-the-clock with scientists and pharmaceutical companies in the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. We are particularly gratified that those on the frontlines and the most vulnerable among us will receive first access to the COVID-19 vaccines,” Dr. Bréchot added.

GVN also emphasizes the need to monitor ongoing vaccination programs regarding side effects, duration of protection, potential impact of viral genome mutations and actual impact on transmission of the virus as important findings in the coming days and months. Also GVN emphasizes the need to provide vaccine availability to all countries.

In this context, while news of the vaccine rollout is an uplifting one, the scientists and virologists of the GVN are concerned about anti-vaccination sentiments in the global population. Recent polls in the U.S. suggest that around 25% of respondents claim they will not obtain the vaccines while another 25% indicate that they are only “considering” doing so. These figures are even higher in some parts of Europe.

Though the highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 that induces COVID-19 has an overall low mortality rate, more than 75 million people have been affected by this pandemic so far, with 1.6 million deaths globally and over 300,000 deaths in the US[1]. The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the world’s healthcare, economic, sociological, and political infrastructures, and its long-term consequences will be extremely hard to manage, if the general public refrain from getting vaccinated.

Moreover, approximately 30-40% of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 show respiratory problems three months after apparent recovery, and the same holds true for symptoms such as anosmia (loss of smell) or agueusia (loss of taste). Additionally, the mortality rates are significantly higher in older individuals as well as in those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders, among other co-morbidities. In addition to mortality, COVID-19 induces a still underappreciated high rate of pulmonary and vascular disorders which can have long term effects.

In this context, the recent unprecedented progress on vaccines against COVID-19 has provided some initial sense of insight and hope as to how we can contain the pandemic now and in the future. Championed by GVN leadership since the beginning of the pandemic, the concept of innate immunity and non-specific effects of vaccines such as Oral Polio Virus (OPV), measles and BCG vaccines are existing tools that can help bridge gaps until classical vaccines are developed and distributed and can serve to prevent the spread of future viral threats.

“Many of my GVN colleagues and I believe that innate immunity plays an important role in protection against COVID-19, and as such we have taken the live attenuated vaccine of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) to stimulate protection until an effective, long-lasting vaccine is available,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor of the Global Virus Network (GVN). “We would have taken the oral polio vaccine, but it was not widely available. We need to change this.  As soon as this new COVID-19 vaccine is available, I will be taking it alongside not just my colleagues but all my family members as well.”

Finally, GVN, including centers in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America emphasized that curbing the pandemic will take time and that vaccination should not exclude the importance of wearing masks, maintaining social distance, avoiding gatherings and frequent hand washing.

[1] Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, coronavirus.jhu.edu., https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

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About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

GVN MEDIA CONTACTS:
Chandrani Raysarkar
Phone: 240-535-1574; Email: [email protected]
Nora Samaranayake
Phone: 410-706-1966; Email: [email protected]

GVN STATEMENT ON RECENT COVID-19 VACCINE DATA SUCCESS

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, November 17, 2020: The Global Virus Network (GVN), , which comprises global preeminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 33 countries, said today that the 94.5% efficacy rate of the Moderna vaccine, according to early data announced yesterday, is a significant step towards developing an effective vaccine to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The GVN added that the announcement from Moderna combined with the recent vaccine data from Pfizer and BioNTech, which demonstrated 90% efficacy, represent major breakthroughs in the global effort to develop an effective vaccine against COVID-19.  The GVN, which has brought together the world’s foremost virologists to collaboratively evaluate the immune response against SARS-CoV-2, congratulates Moderna, Pfizer and BioNtech for their pioneering work and for achieving this milestone.

The two vaccines are mRNA based vaccine and require two-doses of vaccinations. Upon the FDA’s approval for emergency use authorization, Moderna and Pfizer project to produce about 20 million and 50 million doses, respectively, by the end of the year. Widespread vaccinations would be beneficial in mitigating the ongoing pandemic. As emphasized by the companies, the GVN suggests that an important next step is to evaluate the duration of protection, safety, and protective efficacy of vaccines in preventing viral transmission. GVN scientists will continue to contribute to these important milestones to curb, and ultimately control, the COVID-19 pandemic.

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About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

GVN MEDIA CONTACTS:
Nora Samaranayake
Phone: 410-706-1966; Email: [email protected]

 

Global Virus Network (GVN) and the University of South Florida Launch Online Course “Microbiomes and Their Impact on Viral Infections”

GVN Offers Four Scholarships to Self-Paced Online Training Course

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, November 17, 2020: The Global Virus Network (GVN), together with the University of South Florida (USF) Institute on Microbiomes, recently launched the self-paced online course “Microbiomes and Their Impact on Viral Infections.Taught by world-renowned instructors, this course will provide students, academics, and health professionals with the latest knowledge of the importance and role of microbiomes in preventing, mitigating, and treating diseases. The initiative also supports GVN’s mission to train the next generation of virologists and better prepare mankind for future viral threats.

“This course is timely as virologists around the world work to further their investigations into the causes, catalysts, and prevention mechanisms of viral infection,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot, president of GVN and professor at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “We are pleased to collaborate with the USF Institute on Microbiomes, which houses the online, trans-disciplinary program. It is a terrific example of a much-needed training partnership critical to mitigating viral threats.”

Microbiomes and Their Impact on Viral Infections is a non-credit course comprised of two sessions. The first, “Introduction to Microbiomes,” consists of 11 modules while the second, “Symbiotic Evolutions in the Microbiome World,” comprises nine modules and is available to students for up to eight weeks after the start date. With a transdisciplinary approach, students will have access to lectures and complementary material, and will receive a certificate and a digital badge upon course completion.

GVN awarded four course scholarships to investigators working in various stages of viral infection prevention, including, Joseph Osega, a Kenya-based technical advisor and national HIV recency coordinator, who has extensive knowledge of HIV, malaria and TB diagnostics to build capacity and develop public health infrastructure in Kenya; Nanma Cosmas, a lecturer and a doctoral candidate at the University of Jos, Nigeria, who focuses on prevention of HPV and other sexually transmitted infectious diseases among adolescent and young adults through studies of microbiome in various parts of the body; Onyekachukwu Okeke, a doctoral candidate at the University of Jos, Nigeria, who works at a medical laboratory and has been on the front line during the COVID-19 crisis; and, Sophia Osawe, a doctoral candidate at the University of Jos, who researches the effects of maternal HIV infection and prenatal immunization on the immune responses and growth of infants.

“The learning modules are designed by GVN virologists from 33 nations, 57 Centers of Excellence (CoEs), and 11 affiliated laboratories that are at the heart of GVN’s strength,” said Dr. Ramesh Akkina, a director with a GVN CoE at Colorado State University where he is a professor, and an instructor of the microbiomes course. “Besides furthering research, GVN members are focused on training virologists to help identify, research, and combat pandemics of the future.”

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic more than 55 million cases have been reported, and this partnership provides a critical balance between creating new knowledge and making that knowledge available to researchers in the field,” Dr. Brechot added. “I am happy that GVN and USF have come together to partner on important initiatives to advance the transfer of knowledge.  The GVN is pleased to provide necessary training opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders.”

As the only coalition of its kind, GVN leads with scientific, evidence-based solutions to function as an essential global resource for researchers, medical practitioners and policymakers as well as students considering the field of virology as a career choice.

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About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

About USF Health

USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the Taneja College of Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, the Biomedical Sciences Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs, and USF Health’s multispecialty physicians group. The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. For more information, visit health.usf.edu.

GVN MEDIA CONTACTS:
Chandrani Raysarkar
Phone: 240-535-1574; Email: [email protected]
Nora Samaranayake
Phone: 410-706-1966; Email: [email protected]

GVN Statement on Pfizer and BioNTech Data from COVID-19 Vaccine Study

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, July 23, 2020:  The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprised of the world’s preeminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 10 Affiliates in 33 countries, said today that the results of the Phase 3 study by Pfizer and BioNTech on their mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, represents a major breakthrough in the global effort to develop an effective vaccine against COVID-19.  Pfizer and BioNTech announced earlier today that the Phase 3 study of BNT162b2 has thus far demonstrated 90% efficacy against COVID-19.  The GVN, which has brought together the world’s foremost virologists to collaboratively evaluate the immune response against SARS-CoV-2, congratulates Pfizer and BioNTech for their pioneering work and for achieving this milestone.

As emphasized by Pfizer, the GVN believes an important next step is to evaluate the duration of protection as well as the fine immune response characteristics.  GVN scientists will continue to contribute to these important milestones to curb, and ultimately control, the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 10 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

GVN 2020 Special Annual Meeting Executive Summary

A New Era in the Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic: Forging a “Viral Pandemic Readiness Alliance”

A September 22-23, 2020 Special Meeting of Top Global Experts Launches “Global Virus Network’s Vision for Future Pandemic Preparedness”

We are in the midst of a pandemic that has completely upended the world with major economic, social and psychological impacts. The major threat to public health is not only connected to COVID-19-related mortalities, but also to associated morbidity and, possibly, sequelae; moreover COVID-19 impacts overall population health due to the disorganization of health systems.

We must be very humble, as we cannot predict what the future could hold: seasonal variations? Long term persistence? Or regression? We need to keep in mind that the reason behind the SARS-CoV-1 epidemic’s regression has remained in part mysterious. In fact, eradication of the virus seems impossible, and herd immunity may be very difficult to achieve. Thus, we must learn to live with the virus.

It is increasingly clearer that we are not facing “another health crisis.” We are entering a new era where novel modes of organization must be designed. We cannot wait for the current crisis to conclude to prepare for the next—we must act now!

Despite significant progress in global health following previous epidemics and pandemics (including HIV, Influenza and Ebola), and although we were aware of the potential risk of such new pandemics, we were not sufficiently prepared. There are two immediate consequences for global health policies:

  • The importance of infectious diseases, global and “one health” are only further emphasized.
  • The divergence between politics and health in many countries has led to disastrous decisions. As such, we need to provide governing leaders with science-driven and independent strategies.

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is poised to be an important partner in achieving these objectives. This is a coalition of the foremost virologists worldwide, representing 57 research centers and 10 affiliates in 33 countries, and growing by the day. The GVN coordinates scientific projects and has organized task forces on specific viruses including Zika, Chikungunya, and HTLV-1, and now SARS-CoV-2. The organization also has a major focus on education, training and mentoring others in the field. Globally, there is a lack of critical mass in scientists, medical doctors and public health professionals working on infectious diseases. The GVN plays a significant role in advocacy and providing statements (in particular through its website https://gvn.org/). Science-driven and independent expertise are key drivers of meaningful public health strategies, and through its network of outstanding virologists worldwide, GVN offers national and international institutions, as well as industrial partners, a unique source of information and recommendations.

In this context, the GVN organized a two-day workshop dedicated to COVID-19 and future pandemic preparedness with the aim to evaluate what has been improperly and properly handled during these first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading. The workshop looked at precisely identifying the challenges ahead, the actions to take and how the GVN can collaborate with the many institutions to meet these needs. The goal of the workshop was not to revisit in detail all topics and known facts.  A video of the full post-meeting press conference, can be found here.

The following summarizes the major issues discussed:

1) Preparedness: We were not prepared, and we need to prepare now; This implies novel organizational modalities.

  • Cooperation and coordination, beyond goodwill and fashionable wordings; too many institutions are still working in silos with self-interest strategies.
  • Leverage technologic innovation and scientific progress to produce diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.
  • Contemplate and implement novel modes of interactions between academics and industrials, and such partnerships have been at the heart of the GVN since its inception.
  • Multi- and transdisciplinary collaborations, including social and behavioral sciences, and perception of communication.
  • International collaborations: one country alone cannot solve the problem. While this seems obvious, most countries have reacted on an isolated basis. A global collaboration network for pandemic preparedness and prevention needs to be implemented immediately.

2) Prediction: Humans are the best sentinels. Is it feasible to predict future pandemics? How to sufficiently organize surveillance?

  • We must recognize that we cannot predict future pandemics, though we can improve our strategies. Yet, we have sufficient technologies and data analysis systems (including artificial intelligence), but we need to establish implementation and global data sharing mechanisms.
  • We know that animal viruses are major risk factors for the next epidemics and pandemics. This is even increasingly at stake. During the meeting scientists emphasized that five of the seven human coronaviruses identified (229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1, SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2) in the last 20 years have emerged from bats. Humans are modifying ecosystems and are in fact accelerating transmission events.
  • Comprehensive sequencing-based analysis of all viruses worldwide (“animal viromes”) provides useful knowledge but does not predict transmission to humans. GVN scientists point to the importance of focusing surveillance efforts to the human populations who interface with animals.

3) Origin: There is no scientific evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was disseminated by human manipulation.

  • GVN scientists all concur on this controversy.
  • The mission to find out the origins of the virus was a true international collaboration and transparent process featuring scientists from China, America, Australia, Japan, France, and the Philippines.
  • There is a 1,200-nucleotide difference between the closest backbone virus and SARS-CoV-2, representing 4 to the power of 1,200 possible combinations. Even if someone had unlimited research funding and all the best virologists in the world, no one could make this virus.
  • An extensive study will be conducted starting in China and through Southeast Asia to identify the origins of the virus and to allow much better surveillance and mitigation for future emerging viruses.

4) Transmission: “Super spreaders” and “super spreading” events are major drivers of pandemics.

  • COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory disease with very low mortality directly induced by the virus, thus the ideal condition for a virus to spread. The importance of masks, physical distancing and handwashing is well-known. GVN scientists also emphasize the importance of research on disinfectants, an underappreciated protective measure.
  • As re-emphasized in this workshop, only a handful of those infected seem highly contagious. Thus, transmission is driven by a limited number of individuals who behave as “super spreaders.” Why do some individuals (a.k.a. “super spreaders”) transmit viruses to so many others? Although we know that such individuals show high viral load and are generally, yet not always, younger, this cannot fully account for this spreading. What are the other factors? Thus far, research focused on such individuals is mandatory. The question remains whether we can identify novel biomarkers, though we would need to fully exclude stigmatization.
  • Also, this implies for obvious statistical reasons that large gatherings are major risk factors for being in contact with such rare “super spreaders” and thus contributors to rapid viral wide spreading. Therefore, we should not only speak of “super spreaders” but also of “super spreading” events.
  • Aerosol-related transmission is still a controversial issue. Yet, GVN scientists have emphasized that the impact of short-range aerosol-driven transmission contributes to the dissemination of the virus, particularly in the context of “super spreading” events. Masks are very efficient against large droplets but are unfortunately less efficient against such aerosols.

5) Diagnostic: Efficient and rapid diagnostic testing is the key for controlling an infectious disease, and we have not benefited enough from the huge technology progress in this area.

  • Nothing is needed more than rapid diagnostic tests. We need to trace and follow infected individuals and their contacts. We need to educate the general public. This is absolutely the foundation, and we cannot do anything without it.
  • There is now ample evidence that salivary sampling can be used instead of nasal swabs in both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected individuals. This can overhaul access to testing, in particular but not only in children. Rapid tests, whether molecular or immune-based, are now available at a low cost, and presentations have been made by GVN scientists demonstrating these points. Point-of-care rapid tests should also be available.
  • Important progress has been made regarding serological assays, offering major insights not only on the epidemiology but also defining the neutralization capacity of detected antibodies as novel correlates for protection. These are fully necessary for evaluating protective measures, novel therapies and vaccines. As an example, some presentations showed that the nature of the antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 significantly differs when comparing children and elderly, possibly accounting for variations in disease severity. Yet, we need standardized protocols for neutralizing assays. Also, the protective efficacy of antibodies needs to be further substantiated. GVN scientists have emphasized the need to get access to the cellular immune response for delineating such correlates of protection.
  • Discussions have been focused on how we should provide novel organizational schemes to favor rapid translation from technology-driven research to routine testing, and partnerships between academic and industrial partners should be reinforced in an international context. Institutions such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations created for vaccine development are interesting models to get such novel consortia moving faster.

6) Therapeutics: Despite a huge effort made on drug repurposing so far, we have achieved limited results.

  • Drug repurposing must continue to be at the heart of the therapeutic strategy, providing immediate access of well characterized molecules and allowing massive screening for antiviral activities. However, we do not yet have access to drugs that can prevent transmission in high-risk groups or treat early infections. In fact, we are left with combining steroids, Remdesivir (with some but limited efficacy) and anticoagulants for severe infections with pneumonia. Though, several ongoing studies offer hope for novel prophylactic and early treatment molecules.
  • In this context, GVN scientists have emphasized the need for research agencies to fund not only drug repurposing but also drug discovery. Drug discovery will take time to lead to novel accessible molecules – this is a long battle and not a single crisis.
  • Several presentations demonstrated the potential of novel therapeutic avenues, from immunomodulatory to direct antiviral approaches. Antivirals are only meaningful in the early phase of the infection.
  • The trend will be to use drugs targeting multiple pathways and to combine antivirals and immunomodulatory molecules. Additionally, GVN scientist are addressing the possibility of developing broad spectrum antivirals, which could be effective against coronaviruses, influenza and filoviruses (involved in hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, Zika etc.).

7) Vaccines: Safety, efficacy and durability are predominant concerns of COVID-19 vaccine development. Nonspecific immunization procedures must be considered along with COVID-19-specific vaccines.

  • Enormous parallel efforts are being made worldwide utilizing innovative approaches to shorten the vaccine development time. There is uncertainty as to when vaccines for COVID-19 will be readily available for mass vaccination and which formula will be the most efficient. Importantly, we need to ensure the safety of vaccines by testing proper animal models and complying with regulatory requirements – we simply cannot incur adverse reactions.
  • We also need second-generation vaccines that are more focused on the cell immune response.
  • Stimulation of the Innate immune response by non-specific immunization, for example: Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), Oral Polio Virus, is extremely important. GVN scientists made important presentations on this topic, illustrating how BCG-based strategies have already allowed in different contexts to decrease the neonates’ overall mortality in Africa and the rate of respiratory infections in elderly. Mechanisms accounting for stimulation of innate immune response in COVID-19 were thoroughly discussed, and ongoing trials on the impact of BCG and Oral Polio Virus-based vaccines on COVID-19 were deliberated. This approach is complementary to specific vaccine development and might offer a bridge before getting an efficient and sufficiently characterized vaccine.

Conclusions:

It is not a crisis – it is a new era. We have major challenges ahead.  We need a new organization and we need it now.  This is where the GVN is very important, and complementary to national and international agencies. This workshop has led GVN to forge a unified and multidisciplinary pandemic response strategy, tentatively named the Viral Pandemic Readiness Alliance (VPRA) by collaborations with university, industry, government and communities to merge the efforts and find solutions together.

  • True international collaborations are essential and go beyond good and fashionable wordings. Global, One Health and VPRA strategy can support future pandemic preparedness with distribution of diagnostics, vaccine and therapeutics and other interventional measures.
  • In a surge of COVID-19 publications and news releases, we need reliable channels for dissemination of scientific knowledge and information sharing. GVN and VPRA can contribute to this global collaboration effort by assisting the UN, WHO, CEPI, Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other organizations to serve this purpose.

 

GVN 2020 Meeting Press Release

GVN International Press Conference September 24, 2020

GVN’s Top Virus Experts Meet Together To Identify Most Promising Advances To Battle COVID-19 & Strategies To Prepare For Future Pandemics

Rapid Diagnostic Testing, Repurposing Drug Therapies and Vaccines Targeting Innate Immunity, Are Integral Factors in Mitigating COVID-19

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, September 30, 2020: The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition of the world’s leading medical and basic virology research centers working to prevent illness and death from viral disease, convened a press conference with attendees from across the globe to discuss key takeaways from the GVN virtual 2020 Special Annual Meeting held September 23-24, 2020.

A video of the full press conference, can be found here.

“We do not know what the future holds for COVID-19 – there may be seasonal variations or chronic infections or maybe a slowdown,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot, GVN President. “However, we know that we have to prepare and that this for now and not after the end of this pandemics; in the spirit of preparation, it is very timely that we used the Special Annual Meeting to band together international experts to identify and analyze what went wrong, what has been properly handled and what recommendations we can confidently make.”

Key findings during the meeting regarding SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research include:

  • “Super-spreaders” and “super-spreading” events are major drivers of the pandemic, indicating that only a handful of those infected seem be exponentially contagious. Further, short-range aerosol-driven transmission contributes to the dissemination of the virus, particularly in the context of the super spreading events.
  • Key pandemic response strategies – the need to take better advantage of the major technology progress in diagnostics, a key driver for the control of infectious diseases; salivary sampling will very much increase our testing capacity, including in school settings; novel rapid and cheap molecular rapid diagnostic tests combined with digital-based transmission of the results, tracing and isolation should be widely emphasized, an understanding of communicability and transmission and, most importantly, the creation of a unified and multidisciplinary response with mechanisms for information sharing among international virologists and independent authorities.
  • An evaluation of vaccine development – timing, an analysis of the candidates, side-effects and managing the world’s expectation for a satisfactory and timely vaccine. Until a classical, effective vaccine is available, vaccines that stimulate the body’s innate immune system, such as the oral polio vaccine and BCG, are integral in protecting against infection.
  • A very strong statement against SARS-CoV-2 being the result of human manipulation.
  • An update on the available and future therapies, emphasizing the need to combine novel antiviral and immunomodulatory molecules as well as the need to contemplate in the future antivirals with broad spectrum against several viruses.

Dr. Bréchot, who also is a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, continued, “This is not just a crisis – it is a new era. We have major challenges ahead, we need a new organization and we need it now.  Global collaborations will build a strong foundation. This is where the GVN is very important, and complementary to national and international agencies. The GVN is well positioned to establish with all partners a Viral Pandemic Readiness Alliance to facilitate collaborations with universities, industry, governments and communities to merge efforts and find solutions together.”

“Simple, safe, oral, inexpensive, live vaccines such as the oral polio vaccine (OPV) will have a broad benefit against COVID-19. This can also likely be used in future pandemics, particularly of respiratory viruses, by inducing innate immunity, which is immediate and not as limiting as a specific vaccine,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, co-founder of GVN; The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, co-founder and director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Dr. Gallo, who is most renowned for discovering human retroviruses, co-discovering HIV as the cause of AIDS and developing the HIV blood test continued, “Nothing is needed more than a rapid diagnostic test. Molecular tests that can be done cheaply and at home, within two hours or less time – nothing could be more valuable “We need to be able to trace; we need to be able to follow people; we need to be able to educate. This is absolutely basic, and without it we can do nothing. There is singularly nothing else more important in my mind than having rapid and reliable diagnostics.”

Dr. Bréchot was joined at the press event by presenters from the annual meeting including:

  • Linfa Wang, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore
  • Konstantin Chumakov, FDA Office of Vaccines Research and Review, USA
  • Ab Osterhaus, TiHo Hannover, Germany
  • Johan Neyts, Rega Institute, Belgium
  • Raymond Schinazi, Emory University, USA

Next, David Scheer, an advisor and entrepreneur in life sciences with a lifelong career in global public health non-profits, moderated a discussion titled, “From HIV to SARS-CoV-2 and Beyond.” Panelists were Dr. Gallo, Dr. Bréchot and Dr. Eric Rubin, New England Journal of Medicine Editor.  The frank COVID-19 discussion included historical perspectives, the emergence of variant strains of SARS-CoV-2, vaccine development and innate immunity, the use of existing and new drug therapies, pandemic preparedness as it relates to industry, government and academia, and that SARS-CoV-2 is naturally occurring and not manmade.

The meeting program can be found here.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 10 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews.

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GVN International Press Conference September 24, 2020

GVN 2020 Special Annual Meeting Executive Summary

Global Virus Network (GVN) Presents Doherty Institute Director, University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin with the Robert C. Gallo Award for Scientific Excellence and Leadership in Medical Virology

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, September 22, 2020: The Global Virus Network (GVN), comprising foremost experts around the world in every class of virus-causing disease in humans and some animals, today presented Doherty Institute Director, University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin with the Robert C. Gallo Award for Scientific Excellence and Leadership in Medical Virology  Presented today at the GVN Special Annual Meeting, Professor Lewin was selected for her outstanding clinical virology research and clinical trials, her leadership in Australian medical science as Director of the Doherty Institute, and her leadership in the GVN.

Professor Lewin has an international reputation in the field of HIV latency and eradication and immune reconstitution and HIV-hepatitis B virus co-infection.

In 2020 she has worked tirelessly at the helm of the Doherty Institute which has been at the forefront of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Lewin said it was an incredible honour to be presented with the Robert Gallo Award.

“The GVN is among other things, dedicated to identifying, research, combatting and preventing current and emerging pandemic viruses, it’s reason for being has never been so relevant. It’s a privilege to receive the Robert Gallo Award, and to be so closely linked as a GVN Center of Excellence Director,” Professor Lewin said.

The Doherty Institute is one of 57 GVN global Centers of Excellence, which Professor Lewin co-leads with Professor Damian Purcell and Professor Peter Revill.

The award is named after GVN Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor, Professor Robert Gallo, who is most widely known for his co-discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS and the development of the HIV blood test.

“Sharon Lewin is an international leader in clinical research,” said Professor Robert C. Gallo, co-founder of GVN and the current Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  “Additionally, she has been, and will continue to be, a medical science thought leader for the field of clinical virology and a powerful presence in Australia and globally as a scientific leader of the Doherty Institute, quickly establishing this GVN Center as one of excellence. I know all in the GVN are very happy and proud to honor her.”

“I congratulate Sharon Lewin for such a well-deserved award,” said GVN President Professor Christian Bréchot.  “Indeed, this recognizes her major scientific achievements and her full commitment to both the fight against HIV and support for the Global Virus Network.”

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The GVN is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 57 Centers of Excellence and 10 Affiliates in 33 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org and follow on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews.