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CAPTRS Runs a Pandemic Threat Game at CDC Insight Net Annual Meeting

By April 19, 2024No Comments

CAPTRS led a group of over 100 scientists and public health officials through the Outbreak Activation Game at the CDC Insight Net (National Outbreak Analytics & Disease Modeling Network) Annual Meeting in North Carolina this month. The game challenged players to rapidly assess risks and coordinate responses to an emerging Hantavirus threat.

Insight Net was established by the CDC in the wake of the COVID pandemic to accelerate the development of forecasting and decision-support analytics for outbreak detection and response. Insight Net has awarded over $100M to 13 teams, which include experts from over 100 universities, companies, and public health departments across the US. As part of the epiENGAGE team — led by Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers at the University of Texas at Austin — CAPTRS is developing games to ensure nimble and effective scientific responses to future pathogen threats.

Over 48 hours, participants were put through the paces of responding to an emerging outbreak spurred by a superspreader event in the US. They were asked to individually assess the threat level as new data was revealed, and then tasked with collectively determining an activation plan for Insight Net. Groups were judged based on the efficiency and clarity of their decisions.

“It was remarkable to see the variation in interpretation of information from experts across disciplines as the game progressed,” said Mark Escott, Chief Medical Officer and EMS System Medical Director for the City of Austin. “The exercise was also effective in team-building for this newly-formed group, which will improve team performance for the Insight Net.”

“It’s one thing to develop powerful outbreak analytics, but quite another to ensure that they are used effectively to contain an emerging threat,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers. “This game launched a critical conversation among leading scientists and government authorities about the technologies, the training and, especially, the teamwork needed to bolster our national readiness for future pandemics.”

The CAPTRS gaming team is already analyzing the data collected during the exercise to gain insight into how different types of experts perceive risks, and to provide guidance as Insight Net develops protocols for bringing science and data to the front lines of outbreak decision making.