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Advanced Surveillance Project Using Artificial Intelligence Aims to Anticipate Alerts of Infectious Disease Outbreaks

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL | February 13, 2023 – Researchers from the Centre for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) unveiled the AESOP Early Warning System for Outbreaks with Epi-Pandemic Potential at the 6th Global Science Technology and Innovation Conference (G-STIC) in Rio de Janeiro, with support from the Brazilian Ministry of Health, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), that co-organizes the Conference. Currently under development, AESOP is designed to signal new disease outbreaks that have the potential to cause health emergencies, an increasingly common occurrence due to climate change, population growth, and migration.

AESOP collaborators aims to support Brazilian health authorities by coupling actionable data with proposed strategies to mitigate the risks of infectious diseases like dengue. The AESOP data platform will allow health scientists to track early-stage outbreaks by integrating data collected from Brazil’s Unified Health System (SUS) with other health, environmental, and sociodemographic data sources. Currently under development, the platform will ultimately allow health leaders to explore a range of diverse data sources in a single system and, using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, pinpoint areas where infectious diseases are likely to spread rapidly.

“The AESOP seeks to geographically identify the beginning of the outbreak through the analysis of Primary Health Care data, and other data related to the manifestations of the disease, such as the sale of medicines and rumors on social networks.” explained Manoel Barral-Netto, Researcher and Project Coordinator with Fiocruz.

According to Barral-Netto, after identifying the outbreak area, two actions take place in parallel to model the risk and characteristics of the spread of the outbreak: research teams collect field samples to identify infectious agents involved, and AESOP data scientists then integrate other bio-climatological data to model the development of the outbreak and inform control measures.

“Building open, transparent and scalable platforms that transform data into action is vital to ensuring an informed, coordinated and swift response to current and future infectious disease outbreaks,” said Kay van der Horst, Managing Director, Health Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s inspiring to see how the AESOP project team, supported by Fiocruz and The Rockefeller Foundation, has established strong, cross-sector partnerships with a diverse stakeholder community to build this innovative platform. It’s a model that, we believe, can serve as a best practice for other regions as the world advances towards more robust, coordinated pathogen surveillance and outbreak response.”

The 6th Global Science Technology and Innovation Conference (G-STIC) in Rio (13-15 Feb) aims to bring together the global sustainable technology and innovation community to drive the search for innovative technological solutions, integrated with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Conference is organized by Fiocruz, together with seven international research institutes: VITO (Belgium), The Scientific and Industrial Research Council (CSIR, South Africa), Guangzhou Institute for Energy Conversion (GIEC, China), Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, (GIST, South Korea), National Center for Technology Management (NACETEM, Nigeria), Institute of Energy and Resources (TERI, India) and Solutions Network for Sustainable Development of United Nations (SDSN).

G-STIC Rio is supported by primary sponsors Petrobras, Pfizer and Fiotec, with additional support from Aegea, IBMP, Helda Gerdau Institute, Klabin, Enel, Firjan, Sanofi, Engie, and the Institute for Climate and Society. Registration for the conference is now open.

About Centre for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health (CIDACS)

Cidacs conducts studies and research based on interdisciplinary projects originating from the linkage of large volumes of data. The Center’s mission is to contribute to the production of innovative scientific knowledge to broaden the understanding of determinants and social and environmental policies on the health of the population. These studies aim to help and support decision-making in public policies for the benefit of society.

About Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)

UFRJ’s history dates back to the beginning of the 19th century and is filled with remarkable scientific, cultural, and artistic accomplishments. It is currently the 3rd best university in Brazil and the 7th best university in Latin America (QS Rankings – 2018). With many campuses and faculties scattered around Rio de Janeiro State, it comprises institutes, schools, and other facilities, including museums, hospitals, and the third largest ocean basin in the world for research on offshore oil exploitation.

Media Contacts:

Social Communication Coordination (CCS) of Fiocru

Adalton dos Anjos Fonseca
Centre for Data and Knowledge Integration for Health
+55 71 98863-6430