1. Epidemiology and Global Health
  2. Immunology and Inflammation
Download icon

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
Feature Article
  • Cited 13
  • Views 3,554
  • Annotations
Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e58989 doi: 10.7554/eLife.58989

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.

Data availability

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.

Metrics

  • 3,554
    Page views
  • 355
    Downloads
  • 13
    Citations

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, PubMed Central, Scopus.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)

Further reading

    1. Epidemiology and Global Health
    2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
    Paul Z Chen et al.
    Research Advance Updated

    Background:

    Previously, we conducted a systematic review and analyzed the respiratory kinetics of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Chen et al., 2021). How age, sex, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity interplay to influence the shedding dynamics of SARS-CoV-2, however, remains poorly understood.

    Methods:

    We updated our systematic dataset, collected individual case characteristics, and conducted stratified analyses of SARS-CoV-2 shedding dynamics in the upper (URT) and lower respiratory tract (LRT) across COVID-19 severity, sex, and age groups (aged 0–17 years, 18–59 years, and 60 years or older).

    Results:

    The systematic dataset included 1266 adults and 136 children with COVID-19. Our analyses indicated that high, persistent LRT shedding of SARS-CoV-2 characterized severe COVID-19 in adults. Severe cases tended to show slightly higher URT shedding post-symptom onset, but similar rates of viral clearance, when compared to nonsevere infections. After stratifying for disease severity, sex and age (including child vs. adult) were not predictive of respiratory shedding. The estimated accuracy for using LRT shedding as a prognostic indicator for COVID-19 severity was up to 81%, whereas it was up to 65% for URT shedding.

    Conclusions:

    Virological factors, especially in the LRT, facilitate the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19. Disease severity, rather than sex or age, predicts SARS-CoV-2 kinetics. LRT viral load may prognosticate COVID-19 severity in patients before the timing of deterioration and should do so more accurately than URT viral load.

    Funding:

    Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant, NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair, and the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund.

    1. Epidemiology and Global Health
    Audrie Lin et al.
    Research Advance Updated

    Background:

    Previously, we demonstrated that a water, sanitation, handwashing, and nutritional intervention improved linear growth and was unexpectedly associated with shortened childhood telomere length (TL) (Lin et al., 2017). Here, we assessed the association between TL and growth.

    Methods:

    We measured relative TL in whole blood from 713 children. We reported differences between the 10th percentile and 90th percentile of TL or change in TL distribution using generalized additive models, adjusted for potential confounders.

    Results:

    In cross-sectional analyses, long TL was associated with a higher length-for-age Z score at age 1 year (0.23 SD adjusted difference in length-for-age Z score [95% CI 0.05, 0.42; FDR-corrected p-value = 0.01]). TL was not associated with other outcomes.

    Conclusions:

    Consistent with the metabolic telomere attrition hypothesis, our previous trial findings support an adaptive role for telomere attrition, whereby active TL regulation is employed as a strategy to address ‘emergency states’ with increased energy requirements such as rapid growth during the first year of life. Although short periods of active telomere attrition may be essential to promote growth, this study suggests that a longer overall initial TL setting in the first 2 years of life could signal increased resilience against future telomere erosion events and healthy growth trajectories.

    Funding:

    Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Clinical trial number:

    NCT01590095