CSIRO has charted Australia’s preparedness for the next pandemic. 

The national science agency has outlined how Australia can improve its resilience to future pandemics, reduce their economic impact and protect the community.

The Strengthening Australia’s Pandemic Preparedness report highlights six science and technology areas critical to minimising the impact of pandemics in Australia. It also makes 20 recommendations that could reduce impacts while improving economic, social and health outcomes.

The report demonstrates how a more efficient and technology-enabled health system could act as an infectious disease early warning system, allow new treatments to be developed and deployed quickly, let patients be diagnosed and treated sooner, ensure the security of our vaccine supply, and better inform decision making.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall says preparing and protecting the nation from pandemics will take a ‘Team Australia’ approach.

“Australia played a critical role in the global response to COVID-19 to contain outbreaks and find a vaccine, including detection, safety, data tracking, vaccine manufacture and testing, virus analysis, and predictive data analytics,” Dr Marshall said.

“As infectious disease continues to grow in frequency and impact, science can prepare us for what’s ahead as well as drive our recovery and resilience to protect our people and secure our future prosperity.

“CSIRO is committed to Australia’s future protection and resilience. Our high containment lab in Geelong – the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness – works to understand some of the most infectious and harmful diseases. CSIRO is developing a major new research mission to address Infectious Disease Resilience, and with our partners in universities, industry, and government, we are forecasting what we can expect from future pandemics," he said.

The six key science and technology areas identified are:

  1. Preclinical capabilities for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics enabling faster development

  2. Onshore vaccine manufacturing across a diverse range of vaccine technologies, ensuring vaccine supply

  3. Therapeutics repurposing and novel antivirals

  4. Point of care diagnostics for case identification

  5. Genomic analysis of pathogens and their variants

  6. Data sharing for informing response strategies