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Is Australia prepared for the next pandemic?

Jodie McVernon, Tania C Sorrell, Jenny Firman, Brendan Murphy and Sharon R Lewin
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (7): 284-286. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.01451

Pieces of the plan are in place, but we must continue to strengthen preparedness research capacity

Infectious diseases continue to threaten global health security,1 despite decades of advances in hygiene, vaccination and antimicrobial therapies. Population growth, widespread international travel and trade, political instability and climate change have caused rapid changes in human populations, wildlife and agriculture, in turn increasing the risk of infection transmission within and between countries and from animal species.2 New human pathogens have emerged, and previously “controlled” diseases have re-emerged or expanded their range.2 In the past decade alone, the global community has experienced infection outbreaks of pandemic influenza, Ebola and Zika viruses and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

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  • Jodie McVernon1,2
  • Tania C Sorrell3
  • Jenny Firman4
  • Brendan Murphy4
  • Sharon R Lewin5

  • 1 Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC
  • 3 Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 4 Office of Health Protection, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, ACT
  • 5 The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC

Correspondence: j.mcvernon@unimelb.edu.au

Acknowledgements: 

We acknowledge Sandra Gebbie’s expert advice on health emergency management in the Australian context throughout the process of manuscript preparation and review, including contributions to the figure demonstrating pandemic response phases.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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