NEW YORK – Abbott announced on Thursday that it has formed the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition, a partnership to detect and respond to potential future pandemics.
The partnership includes a variety of global organizations with expertise in virus identification, surveillance, sample collection, testing, and data analytics, such as the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, the Rush University System for Health in Chicago, and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
The program will identify new pathogens, analyze the potential risk level, rapidly develop and deploy new diagnostic testing, and determine public health impact in real time, Abbott said in a statement. It is intended to help the global scientific community identify new viral threats and help prevent future pandemics, the company added. The coalition will include Abbott's Global Viral Surveillance Program, which monitors HIV and hepatitis viruses.
If physicians see patients with unknown conditions they can't diagnose, they can provide samples to be tested by Abbott's collaborators, followed by genetic sequencing and analysis to determine any qualities that could indicate an emerging threat. If a threat is discovered, Abbott will develop diagnostic testing for the virus.
Sequences of viruses that are discovered will be published in a public database so health officials and laboratories can determine if it's a novel strain or a virus that has previously been detected. Abbott is currently collecting SARS-CoV-2 virus samples globally and looking for mutations to the virus's genetic sequencing to monitor for new variants.
"This program establishes a global network of 'eyes on the ground' that are always looking for threats, which helps the global health community to stay one step ahead of the next viral threat, and allows us to utilize Abbott's expertise and technology to quickly develop tests to address them," said Gavin Cloherty, head of infectious disease research at Abbott. "The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated a clear need for advanced surveillance and viral sequencing – and the critically important role of testing. Understanding what pathogenic threats are emerging will help us test, diagnose and hopefully help prevent the next pandemic."