Global scientific community unites to track progress on COVID-19 R&D, identifies new research priorities and critical gaps

The World Health Organization held a two half-day virtual summit on 1 and 2 July, to take stock of the evolving science on COVID-19 and examine progress made so far in developing effective health tools to improve the global response to the pandemic.

The event brought together researchers, developers and funders from all over the world, all of whom shared approaches and raw data freely, in a show of solidarity from the global science community. All major research institutes carrying out trials shared their data with a view to speeding up scientific discovery and implementation of solutions.

The group reviewed the latest data from the WHO Solidarity Trial and other completed and ongoing trials for potential therapeutics: hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, remdesivir and dexamethasone. They agreed on the need for more trials to test antivirals, immunomodulatory drugs and anti-thrombotic agents, as well as combination therapies, at different stages of the disease.

The meeting analyzed 15 vaccine trial designs from different developers, and criteria for conducting robust trials to assess safety and efficacy of vaccine candidates. Participants discussed the use of a global, multi country, adaptive trial design, with a common DSMB, and clear criteria to advance candidates through the various stages of trials.

They noted that most internationally funded research projects have so far favoured high-income countries, with very few funded in low- and middle-income countries, highlighting the importance of the ACT-Accelerator Initiative to speed up the development and equitable deployment of COVID-19 tools.

More evidence is emerging that transmission from humans to animals is occurring, namely to felines (including tigers), dogs and minks.

The Summit hosted over 1000 researchers and scientists from all over the world and addressed the following topics:

  1. virus: natural history, transmission and diagnostics;
  2. animal and environmental research on the virus origin, and management measures at the human-animal interface;
  3. epidemiological studies;
  4. clinical characterization and management;
  5. infection prevention and control, including health care workers’ protection;
  6. candidate therapeutics R&D;
  7. candidate vaccines R&D;
  8. ethical considerations for research and;
  9. integrating social sciences in the outbreak response.

Categories: Diseases

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