SARS-CoV-2 Response Task Force:
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted global health and economies at unprecedented levels. Since the beginning of the pandemic, GVN has organized this task force with leading global experts of virology and vaccinology from its Centers of Excellence and Affiliates, and has provided scientific knowledge and strategies to contain the pandemic. The highlights of this task force include (1) to implement international efforts and promote cooperative activities in response to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, (2) to translate research into practical applications to improve diagnostics and effective therapy and to develop vaccines, (3) to facilitate clinical trials between industry partners and center scientists, and (4) to serve as a world-wide resource to governments and international organizations seeking advice regarding the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Long-COVID Task Force:
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge and burden to public health. Clinical evidence is evolving on the long-term effects of COVID-19. In particular, long COVID-19 (Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, PASC) is affecting the quality of individuals’ lives with lingering and debilitating symptoms. With the ongoing pandemic, more people will experience PASC. Furthermore, this pandemic has taken another turn with the spread of various Omicron variants of the virus. Global collaborations from multi-disciplinary teams are crucial to understanding the causes, mechanisms, and risks to develop preventive measures. The GVN is in an outstanding position to tackle long COVID-19 with each center’s experts and resources. The Long COVID-19 Task Force includes leading virologists, clinical scientists, and epidemiologists.
Public Health & Hygiene Task Force:
Infectious diseases have significant impact on global health systems and economies. The GVN organizes collaborative meetings for leading global experts of public health, virology, and epidemiology in the Centers of Excellence and its affiliates, and has provided scientific knowledge and strategies to protect the public from infectious diseases. The goals of the GVN Global Health Task Force are to (1) implement international efforts and promote cooperative activities in response to emerging and existing infectious diseases, including the current COVID-19 pandemic, (2) translate research into practical applications to develop effective disinfectants and standard operating procedures, (3) facilitate collaborative efforts between industry partners and center scientists, and (4) provide a world-wide resource to assist the public, cooperatives, and organizations seeking intervention strategies to prevent infectious diseases.
Dengue Task Force:
The GVN has established this task force with leading scientists in the field of Dengue. The members of this task force are committed to finding solutions to the challenges posed by Dengue virus in endemic areas. This group is aiming to provide (1) genomic surveillance of dengue viruses (2) development of innovative vaccines and therapeutics, and (3) technical support to low- and middle-income countries, (4) collaboration opportunities between the GVN academic centers and industrial partners.
Monkeypox Task Force:
In Spring 2022, as the world was still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, saw the beginning of an outbreak of Monkeypox that eventually affected more than 100 countries. The GVN promptly assembled a task force that includes internationally recognized poxvirus researchers. The range of expertise in this task force spans from basic research to epidemiology, clinical research, and vaccines. The group identified key issues of this outbreak: protection of vulnerable populations, availability of antivirals and vaccines, the necessity to of monitoring infection rates, implementation of measures to prevent community transmission, and prevent establishment of animal reservoirs in non-enzootic areas. The task force articulated their vision in a publication paper submitted for publication, and meets regularly to update knowledge on the spread of the outbreak, and coordinate international efforts to advance research studies towards therapeutic and preventive approaches to contain and end Monkeypox transmission.
ZIKA Task Force:
The Zika Task Force is composed of members of any of the GVN Centers of Excellence, its affiliates and top global experts who have relevant research and development expertise that could be harnessed to respond to the current Zika epidemic. One member will serve as Chairperson. Membership in the Task Force is voluntary. The Zika task force is the main responsible for advising the GVN, including its Centers of Excellence, in all aspects related to the GVN response to the Zika epidemic. With support from the GVN secretariat, the Task Force will c ommunicate with all CoE to identify opportunities for collaboration. With support from the Secretariat, the Task Force will establish strategic alliances with other relevant organizations involved in the response to the Zika epidemic. The Task Force will convene conference calls and, if appropriate, meetings to discuss practical GVN actions in response to the epidemic. With support from the GVN Secretariat, the The Task Force will serve as GVN spokespersons, and will communicate with the media as such. As possible and appropriate, members of the Task Force should be available to advise, on behalf of the GVN, countries on activities related to the response to the epidemic. While serving in the GVN Task Force, members are encouraged to act on behalf of the GVN in addition to their own professional affiliation. Membership of the Task Force is for one year, extendable if appropriate.
HTLV-1 Task Force:
The Global Virus Network (GVN) formed an international Task Force on Human T-Leukemia Virus (HTLV-1), the world’s first known human retrovirus and the only known leukemia-causing virus. Experts from 11 countries, led by Dr. Robert Gallo, GVN co-founder and scientific director and director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. Luc Willems (Research Director, National Fund for Scientific Research at University of Liège) and Dr. Hideki Hasegawa (Director, Department of Pathology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan) are leading the Task Force, which met for the first time in May 2014.
“There are no effective vaccines against HTLV, no antiviral drugs to treat infections, and though there are diagnostic tests for the virus none yet can predict which infected person gets disease,” said Dr. Gallo who pioneered the field of human retrovirology with his ground-breaking discoveries of HTLV- 1 in 1980 and HTLV-2 in 1982. “This Task Force is critical as the global community works together to address a problem which in many countries is under-recognized and under-appreciated,” he continued.
More than 20 million people worldwide are infected with the virus, of which up to 10% will develop debilitating and sometimes deadly disease. HTLV-1 causes an adult T-cell leukemia/ lymphoma (ATL), HTLV-associated myelopathy (HAM), spastic paraparesis, and other rare illnesses. Signs and symptoms of HTLV-1 infection include motor and sensory changes in the extremities, inflammation in the spinal cord, a spastic gait in combination with weakness of the lower limbs, cognitive impairment, bladder dysfunction and bladder cancer. HTLV-1, similar to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), also co-discovered by Dr. Gallo as the cause of AIDS, is transmitted through sexual contact, from mother to child via breastfeeding, and through exposure to contaminated blood.
“This task force is to set the common goal among the scientists around the world to accelerate the research in order to overcome HTLV and related diseases,” said Dr. Hideki Hasegawa of Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The mission of the HTLV-1 Task Force is to speed the pathway to discovery of drugs that will stop virus transmission or progression from infection to disease, in addition to educating the public about the nature of these viruses, the diseases they cause, and how to prevent their spread.
GVN’s President concluded, “We are excited to be able to bring together leading experts to mobilize more research and more attention to HTLV by governments in order to help communities most affected by this insidious virus.”
Chikungunya Task Force:
WHAT IS CHIKUNGUNYA?
- Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease that causes its victims to suffer fever and severe, debilitating and often chronic joint pain.
- There is no specific antiviral drug treatment or vaccine for Chikungunya; treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms.
- Chikungunya was first described during an outbreak in Tanzania in 1952, but has most recently reached the Caribbean and South America, with local transmission also in the United States.
TASK FORCE ACTIVITIES
The GVN Chikungunya Task Force is a group of leading scientists from around the world committed to finding solutions to the growing problem of Chikungunya virus. Activities of the CHIK TF include:
- Review the state of the science and potential research opportunities on animal models of infection and disease, candidate vaccine constructs, new anti-viral drugs, and seroepidemiology studies for previously unrecognized cases of CHIK, while including a focus on the Caribbean and Americas.
- Identify potential funding sources to support international collaborative research and address gaps in knowledge.
- Train the next generation of researchers to study the interactions between viruses and mosquito vectors. Provide expertise and visibility as GVN speaks about this challenge to a variety of audiences.