Mitigating Biosecurity Challenges of Wildlife Virus Discovery

14 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2022 Last revised: 7 Sep 2022

See all articles by Jonas Sandbrink

Jonas Sandbrink

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine; University of Oxford - Future of Humanity Institute

Janvi Ahuja

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine

Jacob Swett

altLabs, Inc.

Gregory Koblentz

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Claire Standley

Georgetown University

Date Written: February 14, 2022

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked renewed calls for wildlife virus discovery efforts to predict emerging zoonotic diseases. In this Perspective, we highlight safety and security risks associated with large-scale viral collection and characterisation efforts. We present risk mitigation strategies and argue for more emphasis on cost-benefit comparison between different approaches. Accidents may be minimised by developing and adopting international standards for sample collection, indirect wildlife sampling of waterways and faecal droppings, and maintaining a culture of continuous learning around laboratory biocontainment. The laboratory characterisation of human infectivity and associated identification of pandemic-capable viruses might proliferate the ability to create pandemics. Systems for responsible and equitable access to genomic data and computational tools may help to mitigate risks. In light of the contested benefits and unique risks of large-scale wildlife virus discovery, a focus on One Health surveillance and behavioural interventions targeted at the human-animal interface may be both superior for preventing natural epidemics and reducing the risk from accidental and deliberate emergence.

Note:
Funding: JBS’ and JA’s doctoral research is funded by Open Philanthropy.

Declaration of Interests: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Keywords: biosecurity, biosafety, zoonotic risk prediction, viral surveillance, One Health, dual-use, COVID-19

Suggested Citation

Sandbrink, Jonas and Ahuja, Janvi and Swett, Jacob and Koblentz, Gregory and Standley, Claire, Mitigating Biosecurity Challenges of Wildlife Virus Discovery (February 14, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4035760 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4035760

Jonas Sandbrink (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine ( email )

Old Road Campus
Roosevelt Drive
Oxford, OX3 7FZ
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Future of Humanity Institute ( email )

Trajan House
Mill Street
Oxford, OX2 0DJ
United Kingdom

Janvi Ahuja

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine ( email )

Old Road Campus
Roosevelt Drive
Oxford, OX3 7FZ
United Kingdom

Jacob Swett

altLabs, Inc. ( email )

Berkeley, CA
United States

Gregory Koblentz

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University ( email )

3351 Fairfax Drive
MS3B1
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
(703) 993-1266 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://schar.gmu.edu/about/faculty-directory/gregory-koblentz

Claire Standley

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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