Versatile Emerging infectious disease Observatory (VEO)
forecasting, nowcasting and tracking in a changing world

Through the VEO project, the EU is supporting a research and innovation action to establish a system that serves as an interactive virtual observatory for the generation and distribution of high quality actionable information for evidence-based early warning, risk assessment and monitoring of emerging infectious disease threats.

Key challenge: global changes in global trends acting as drivers of infectious disease emergence and spread in the One Health domain

The digital revolution coupled with data science, and the use of breakthrough multi-analyte technologies offers great opportunities for infectious disease detection. Emerging diseases and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are increasing due to global changes that have a fundamental impact on the dynamics of infectious diseases, challenging the existing global health infrastructure and organization. Rapid identification is essential to reduce the impact and costs of outbreaks. As a major part of EID and AMR come from animals, a true shift in ability to detect would come from deep understanding the factors that drive their emergence, focusing on the complex interplay of environmental and human factors that drive disease dynamics, and using those insights to develop early warning systems.

VEO will work from the vision that the detection and prediction of human and animal health threats arising from current and predicted global changes can be revolutionized by shifting from a mostly reactive (single) pathogen targeted surveillance, into a system that supports:

  • prediction, detection and tracking of when and where risk of outbreaks is increasing,
  • follow-up of signals for filling data gaps using sophisticated catch-all methodologies and citizen science for verification and tracking
  • translating combined data into intuitive and interactive interpretation and visualisation tools for users.

VEO’s objectives

1. To develop and operate the VEO data platform
The VEO data platform will support rapid mining, sharing, integration, presentation and analysis of traditional and novel ‘Biodata’ with a choice of “Contextual data”, integrating publicly available and confidential data.

2. To develop innovative cloud-based collaborative datamining tools
VEO will develop novel cloud-based data-mining tools and services, supporting data-intensive interdisciplinary collaboration of geographically distributed international teams, and integrate these into the VEO system (the VEO analytical platform).

3. To develop novel phenotyping tools and workflows and integrate these into VEO system
VEO will develop tools to generate, update, expand and validate inventories of genetic signatures associated with relevant (i.e. actionable) pathogen traits, to guide risk assessments.

4. To develop novel host exposure assessment tools and workflows and integrate these into the VEO system
VEO will integrate serological data produced by novel antibody profiling technologies into the VEO system and in early warning, risk assessment and monitoring of EID threats. Technologies developed will encompass 1) peptide arrays covering the main target antigens of viruses addressed in the use-case scenarios for testing reservoir- and disease hosts; 2) Analytical tools for exploration, analysis and visualisation of multi-analyte array data combined with metadata; and 3) Mathematical models for estimating exposure from multi-analyte antibody profiles.

5. To test and evaluate the VEO system in five use-case scenarios and define key user requirements for VEO functionalities
The novel technologies and functionalities of the VEO system are (co)designed, tested and evaluated in five complementary use case scenarios, with the overall purpose of ensuring that the VEO system is optimally attuned to the needs of its intended users, and obtaining proof-of-principle of the technologies and tools developed.

6. To develop a common understanding of key data-mining needs, options, challenges, and solutions
The analytical and technological developments (objectives 1-4), will be guided and evaluated by dedicated scoping workshops that will be held jointly every three months during the first year, and then – depending on need - for specific scenarios or combinations thereof from the second year onward.

7. To develop an inventory, analysis and guideline(s) for the ethical, legal and social implications (the ELSI objective) of integrating novel types of data into the VEO core data hubs
Objective 7 covers (i) ethical and legal constraints of merging societal big-data collections and epidemiological data, and (ii) ethical and legal implications of citizen-science aided public health research.


Marion Koopmans
Coordinator of VEO
Erasmus Universitair Medisch Centrum Rotterdam


Frank Aarestrup
Co-Coordinator of VEO
Technical University of Denmark
16 JULY 2024