By Corrie Brown
As a member of the External Advisory Board for the last 6 years, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch this important consortium grow and evolve. EVA has expanded and served the world admirably, forming a marvelous model for response to new and existing viral diseases. They have responded admirably through various pandemics - MERS, Ebola, COVID-19, monkeypox - in supplying customers with capabilities and reagents to help control these devastating diseases, while at the same time building a large archive of human, animal, and plant viruses. They various teams and institutions have accomplished many goals in an organized, effective, and collegial manner.
It is widely asserted that COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic. Indeed, with population growth, land use change, and global warming, there will continue to be "wild, crazy, infectious stuff" that needs to be assessed, diagnosed, and understood rapidly, to protect the public health. The world NEEDS EVA to always be prepared for the next big one, because it is not IF, but WHEN.
At the most recent meeting, in Padova, Italy, a region known for its fabulous frescoes and sculptures, using art as a metaphor to compare a world without EVA to a world WITH EVA seems appropriate.
Without EVA, as a new disease arises, the world will respond largely through the implementation of competitive grants, with a diverse array of scientists and institutions all working on various aspects of the problem at hand. There will be time lags, withholding of information prior to publishing, various gaps in needed information, and the end result can be compared to an abstract painting, think Jackson Pollock. You look at the canvas, it is abstract, difficult to discern key information, and may have many white spaces. People die in those interstices and knowledge gaps. This is a world without EVA.
Now, with EVA, imagine a paint-by-number of some classic painting, perhaps the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. A new and dangerous pathogen emerges. EVA quickly sends necessary tasks around to its members, everyone works together but also separately, each according to their expertise. The spaces on the canvas are quickly filled in an orderly and organized fashion, and before you know it, a full picture has emerged, it is beautiful, and the entire world can discern its meaning. Lives are saved.
So, when the next big one hits, for public health preparedness, we NEED EVA. In times of public health crises, we need the organized, effective, and logical path that EVA pursues, to create the best picture of usable information, knowledge, and tools. Thank you, EVA!