Pandemic influenza is rated amongst the gravest national risks on the UK government risk register. Pandemics can occur with unpredictable frequency, infecting populations with a new virus over a relatively short period of time, causing significant illness and mortality and disrupting the function of normal communities. Early detection is key to preventing the spread of 'ordinary' seasonal and pandemic flu.
Led by Professor Ingemar Cox, Flagship 2 aims to create an early-warning system for flu by linking web data and mobile phone connected tests.
We are developing the tools to mine Google and Twitter for symptoms of flu-like illnesses (search terms such as 'fever', 'cough', 'sore throat') and creating a health dashboard to visualise the information. In parallel, we are engineering new mobile phone-connected tests for influenza.
Our approach integrates advances in genomic sequencing with novel capture chemistries and nanomaterials to create robust, sensitive and specific diagnostics at the point of care. The ability of mobile phones to connect the test results into our early-warning system could help to protect patients and populations from emerging strains of influenza.
Find out more about influenza.