COVID-19 has had the world in its grip for more than a year. What lessons can we learn from the current pandemic? How can we better prepare for future health crises caused by zoonoses? With ERRAZE@WUR (Early Recognition and Rapid Action in Zoonotic Emergencies), WUR wants to help lay a solid scientific foundation for answering these questions.
In the research and investment programme ERRAZE@WUR, WUR works together with partners in the Netherlands and worldwide to support policymakers and decision-makers and thus society in preventing future pandemics and mitigating their impact. Within the programme, scientists from various disciplines take a broad look at issues related to pandemics, i.e. the characteristics and spread of viruses, but also at how factors such as climate change, changing land use and the disruption of natural habitats facilitate the spread of viruses.
WUR wants to map the important hotspots in the world where zoonoses can be transmitted from animals to humans. In other words, places where wild animals come into contact with livestock, pets and people. This includes not only the wet markets where wild animals are sold, but also places in tropical rainforests where livestock farming is pervasive. Targeted surveillance in these hotspots would make it possible to detect unknown viruses more quickly and thus prevent pandemics.
Besides the virological and epidemiological aspects, the scientists within ERRAZE@WUR also look at behaviour and health of humans and animals, ecosystems and the global agro-food system, economic and social developments, food safety and food security, ethics and policy. All these domains play a role in preventing and combating pandemics. An integrated and interdisciplinary approach is therefore necessary to anticipate future (threatening) pandemics.
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