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Preparing for the next pandemic: a molecular medicine approach

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SARS-CoV-2 infection has become a defining moment in pandemic history with over 100 million people infected worldwide, with at least two million deaths and an unknown future of post COVID-19 morbidity. While warp speed vaccine programs have delivered highly efficacious vaccines in record time, manufacturing and distribution plans, especially to developing countries, are inefficient and geopolitical. The emergence of virus variants which may partly or completely evade vaccine elicited immunity and even have higher pathogenicity are causes for concern. With an explosion of scientific studies, much has been learned, but only three drugs have current emergency use authorization for use in COVID-19. As new future viral pandemics are almost certain, including from influenza, coronaviruses, nipah, paramyxovirus amongst others, collective viral, immunological and molecular scientific knowledge can propel better preparedness for future viral pandemics.
Ongoing studies have identified gaps in our knowledge. Can pan-viral immune effectors be identified and manufactured, could manipulation of the innate immune system provide some emergency immune protection, could existing vaccines be used to boost innate immunity, can existing drugs be repositioned to target common viral or host pathways, can population level immune surveillance help identify populations at greater risk for more rapid intervention, how do genetic studies identify polygenic risk for infection or disease progression?
This thematic series calls for submissions focusing on the molecular mechanisms at the interface between the immune system and virus in pandemic infections, and the therapeutic exploration of this insight. It will also cover how lessons from the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic could be used to prepare for the next pandemic, including mathematical modeling and systems surveillance. It welcomes contributions of any of the following article types: Original Research Article, Perspective, Review, Mini-review, Opinion, covering, but not limited to, the following topics:  

  • Molecular mechanisms which can be exploited for new drug discovery
  • Novel pan virus vaccine design
  • Identification of conserved immunogenic epitopes that can be targeted by vaccines
  • Optimized strategies with combination immunotherapies and emergency immunotherapies
  • Stimulation of innate immunity, including through unrelated vaccinations
  • Mathematical modeling of immunity
  • Population immunology and systems surveillance studies

We welcome the submission of additional manuscripts to this series*.

*Articles must be submitted through Editorial Manager. Please indicate at the Additional Information stage of submission that you are submitting to the “Preparing for the next pandemic: a molecular medicine approach” thematic series. All manuscripts received will be subject to peer review as is standard for the journal. 

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