Innovation, Policy, and Public Interactions in the Management of Infectious Diseases

Professor and Scientific Advisor, Innogen Centre, University of Edinburgh


This paper focuses on preparedness planning for an influenza pandemic, particularly the impact of specific policies on national health-related and economic outcomes. The case fatality rate (CFR) of a new influenza strain is likely to be the primary determinant of public behavior, leading to actions including individuals absenting themselves from work due to fear of infection (i.e., prophylactic absenteeism [PA]). Such behaviors impact the effectiveness of preparedness plans. Synthetic biology is a promising approach for the rapid development of improved diagnostics and vaccines, with enormous potential savings to national economies. Regulatory innovations are needed to enable rapid development of these technologies to address the emergence of a new pandemic strain of influenza. Throughout this paper, the United Kingdom is used to exemplify preparedness planning in a realworld setting. Similar points would apply to any other country operating, or planning to operate, a similar system of contingency planning and decision-making.