The current crisis painfully demonstrates how vulnerable our society has become to disasters. In the foreseeable future, our society can expect many more and unforeseen virus outbreaks and extreme events. But how do we prevent society from the next pandemic or disaster? Which lessons learnt could be used to develop prevention and intervention measures and how could research contribute to preparedness?

To prepare society for future pandemics and disasters, Erasmus MC, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam have joined forces in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center. An initiative to reduce vulnerabilities and risks, and build resilience through effective disaster prevention, preparedness, and recovery measures.

As a new emerging disease, COVID-19 itself was not the only difficulty that arose; additional problems like shortages of hospital staff, or small business defaults emerged, giving rise to more uncertainty in society. It is important to focus on the problem at large, taking medical as well as technical and societal aspects into account when developing measures for prevention.

Resilient society

The impact of COVID-19 has been dramatic. The pandemic has not only had medical implications. It also gave rise to other problems such as loneliness in young adults. Research at PDPC also aims to answer questions related to society at large. Pearl Dykstra, Professor of Empirical Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam: "Working together, we must and can use insights from multiple disciplines in the fight against future pandemics and disasters. ...

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Zoonotic threat

When investigating virus outbreaks in humans, it is of great importance to develop intervention options like vaccines, but also to acquire knowledge to prevent outbreaks altogether. Ron Fouchier is one of the researchers at PDPC who is working on fundamental research into viruses. “We have no idea how zoonotic viruses change and become transmissible between people. That is one of the big unknowns in emerging pandemics which I'm trying to figure o...

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Disaster preparedness is essential for a delta city like Rotterdam. Because the city lies in a delta it is sensitive to rising sea levels caused by climate change and thus susceptible to flooding. Researchers of Delft University of Technology have been working on assessing the vulnerability of the city to flooding, and its various critical systems, like transportation, energy, and healthcare. Bas Jonkman, Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at Del...

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Virus Outbreaks

Marion Koopmans, Head of the Department of Viroscience at Erasmus MC, is one of the pioneers of this center. For many years, she has been working on virus outbreaks, specifically on the transfer of viruses from animals to humans, and on large-scale outbreaks within the human population. A couple of years ago, the WHO developed blueprints for future viruses, like coronavirus and Ebola, but also for Disease X, a hypothetical unknown pathogen that l...

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