VEClim: Climate-driven vector-borne disease risk assessment

Climate warming is expected to change the distribution ranges of many insect species. The risk of vector-borne disease emergence will increase consequently, as chikungunya, dengue, and West Nile fever incidences have already increased in the northern hemisphere. Since growth, development, and activity of insects are highly sensitive to climatic and environmental variation, accurate representation of their physiological dependencies is needed to develop predictive, reliable, and widely applicable disease models.

The Cyprus Institute has been among the first to develop computational models of complex life activities that can predict the habitat suitability and abundance of disease vectors that are sensitive to environmental factors and climate change. VEClim project aims to make these models and predictions freely and readily available to the public. By developing a powerful digital engine, VEClim will perform periodic and on-demand numerical simulations predicting the ups and downs of the abundance and activity of important disease vectors, and the risk of diseases transmitted by them at any location and time, up to the end of the century. VEClim’s predictions will be accessible via a user-friendly, interactive web-based geographic information and decision support platform, which will be integrated into the high-performance supercomputing environment of the institute.

VEClim will inform the public and contribute to global-to-local strategies of vector management, and help with efficient, cost-effective, and ecologically sound and sustainable vector control measures to prevent infectious disease spreading.

VEClim is funded by the Wellcome Trust, UK, through the Digital Technology Development Awards (Climate Sensitive Infectious Disease Modelling). It is the first such award the Wellcome Trust has ever made directly to a Cypriot institution.

Funding: €609,711.00 (5 years)

This project is supported by the Wellcome Trust 226065/Z/22/Z