A Global Immunological Observatory to meet a time of pandemics

  1. Michael J Mina  Is a corresponding author
  2. C Jessica E Metcalf  Is a corresponding author
  3. Adrian B McDermott
  4. Daniel C Douek
  5. Jeremy Farrar
  6. Bryan T Grenfell
  1. Harvard School of Public Health, United States
  2. Princeton University, United States
  3. National Institutes of Health, United States
  4. The Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom

Abstract

SARS-CoV-2 presents an unprecedented international challenge, but it will not be the last such threat. Here, we argue that the world needs to be much better prepared to rapidly detect, define and defeat future pandemics. We propose that a Global Immunological Observatory (GIO) and associated developments in systems immunology, therapeutics and vaccine design should be at the heart of this enterprise.

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No data is involved in this manuscript.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Michael J Mina

    Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, United States
    For correspondence
    mmina@hsph.harvard.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0674-5762
  2. C Jessica E Metcalf

    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, United States
    For correspondence
    cmetcalf@princeton.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3166-7521
  3. Adrian B McDermott

    Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0616-9117
  4. Daniel C Douek

    Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Jeremy Farrar

    The Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Bryan T Grenfell

    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3227-5909

Funding

The authors declare that there was no funding for this work.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peter Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: May 18, 2020
  2. Accepted: June 5, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: June 8, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: June 12, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

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  1. Michael J Mina
  2. C Jessica E Metcalf
  3. Adrian B McDermott
  4. Daniel C Douek
  5. Jeremy Farrar
  6. Bryan T Grenfell
(2020)
A Global Immunological Observatory to meet a time of pandemics
eLife 9:e58989.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.58989

Further reading

    1. Epidemiology and Global Health
    Tom G Richardson et al.
    Short Report

    Background:

    Vitamin D supplements are widely prescribed to help reduce disease risk. However, this strategy is based on findings using conventional epidemiological methods which are prone to confounding and reverse causation.

    Methods:

    In this short report, we leveraged genetic variants which differentially influence body size during childhood and adulthood within a multivariable Mendelian randomization (MR) framework, allowing us to separate the genetically predicted effects of adiposity at these two timepoints in the lifecourse.

    Results:

    Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), there was strong evidence that higher childhood body size has a direct effect on lower vitamin D levels in early life (mean age: 9.9 years, range = 8.9–11.5 years) after accounting for the effect of the adult body size genetic score (beta = −0.32, 95% CI = −0.54 to –0.10, p=0.004). Conversely, we found evidence that the effect of childhood body size on vitamin D levels in midlife (mean age: 56.5 years, range = 40–69 years) is putatively mediated along the causal pathway involving adulthood adiposity (beta = −0.17, 95% CI = −0.21 to –0.13, p=4.6 × 10-17).

    Conclusions:

    Our findings have important implications in terms of the causal influence of vitamin D deficiency on disease risk. Furthermore, they serve as a compelling proof of concept that the timepoints across the lifecourse at which exposures and outcomes are measured can meaningfully impact overall conclusions drawn by MR studies.

    Funding:

    This work was supported by the Integrative Epidemiology Unit which receives funding from the UK Medical Research Council and the University of Bristol (MC_UU_00011/1).

    1. Epidemiology and Global Health
    2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
    Jana Sanne Huisman et al.
    Research Article

    The effective reproductive number Re is a key indicator of the growth of an epidemic. Since the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, many methods and online dashboards have sprung up to monitor this number through time. However, these methods are not always thoroughly tested, correctly placed in time, or are overly confident during high incidence periods. Here, we present a method for timely estimation of Re, applied to COVID-19 epidemic data from 170 countries. We thoroughly evaluate the method on simulated data, and present an intuitive web interface for interactive data exploration. We show that, in early 2020, in the majority of countries the estimated Re dropped below 1 only after the introduction of major non-pharmaceutical interventions. For Europe the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions was broadly associated with reductions in the estimated Re. Globally though, relaxing non-pharmaceutical interventions had more varied effects on subsequent Re estimates. Our framework is useful to inform governments and the general public on the status of epidemics in their country, and is used as the official source of Re estimates for SARS-CoV-2 in Switzerland. It further allows detailed comparison between countries and in relation to covariates such as implemented public health policies, mobility, behaviour, or weather data.