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Abbott And New Global Consortium Partnership Tackle Viral Outbreaks Caused By Climate Change

  • 4 min read
  • Abbott is joining the Climate Amplified Disease and Epidemics (CLIMADE) consortium, which will use data science to predict, track and control diseases that are being amplified by climate change 
  • Climate change can increase the spread of both known and unknown viruses, particularly those transmitted by water or animals carrying diseases 
  • CLIMADE’s initial work will start with disease surveillance in Africa and expand to countries often impacted by infectious disease outbreaks caused by climate change  

Abbott announced today that it’s partnering with the Climate Amplified Disease and Epidemics (CLIMADE) consortium, a group of more than 300 global scientists in public health agencies, academia and industry focused on using data science technology and diagnostic testing to tackle the impact climate change has on disease outbreaks. 

Climate change effects, such as warmer temperatures and a rise in droughts and floods, have accelerated the spread of disease, which could fuel a new era of pandemics. Research has found that climate change will impact more than half of known infectious diseases, which commonly spread via water or animals carrying diseases, such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus and malaria.1 Climate change can also impact unknown or reemerging viruses as animal habitats change, leading to more opportunities for animal-to-human transmission. 

As part of the consortium, scientists trained in infectious diseases, bioinformatics and data science will develop technologies that can aggregate environmental, weather and viral sequencing data sets to predict if conditions could cause a disease outbreak. If a potential outbreak is identified, resources and rapid surveillance testing can be sent to that location to prevent further spread. 

“Imagine being able to track weather patterns to determine if rising floods may lead to a water-borne disease outbreak,” said Gavin Cloherty, Ph.D., head of infectious disease research and the Pandemic Defense Coalition in Abbott’s diagnostics business. “Abbott’s work with CLIMADE is focused on tracking and predicting events so testing and medical resources can be deployed to prevent the spread of disease – making a real impact in communities and people’s lives.”

The CLIMADE consortium, will be focused on improving surveillance tools and expanding access to resources to decrease the impact of climate amplified diseases and epidemics. The global group of scientists is led by Tulio de Oliveira, Ph.D., a professor at the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) in South Africa as well as Luiz Carlos Alcantara, Ph.D., a professor at the Fundação Osvaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ) in Brazil. CLIMADE members include public health agencies, like the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that bring decades of experience in genomics surveillance and epidemic response, as well as academic organizations such as the Broad Institute, University of Washington and University of Oxford. 

Abbott and its partners in the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition will provide viral sequencing and testing data as part of the technology being developed and can provide diagnostic testing for potential outbreaks.

“We are bringing together the best minds in the medical, scientific and public health communities to help the world create a robust surveillance system that quickly identifies pathogens and tracks their evolution and spread,” said Oliveira. “This collaboration across the private and public sectors is critical to pandemic preparedness and to our ability to go from responding to outbreaks to predicting them before they occur.”

CLIMADE’s initial work will start with disease surveillance in Africa and expand to countries around the world that are often impacted by infectious disease outbreaks.  

Protecting Health in an Evolving Climate

Safeguarding a healthy environment is a longstanding part of Abbott’s purpose to help people live fuller lives through better health. Building on our longstanding commitment to minimize our environmental footprint and protect precious resources, we’re also focused on taking action to protect people’s health in the face of climate change. At Abbott, our work focuses in two areas: tracking and finding solutions for emerging health threats and preparing frontline systems and communities. Across our business and in collaboration with others, we’ll work to identify and address emerging health issues, strengthen underlying health systems and help build more resilient communities in a warming world. For more information, visit