WHO, Funders Set Priorities for Coronavirus Research

By Emily Forster -

February 13, 2020

Health experts, researchers, and major funders met at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva this week (week of February 10, 2020) to prioritize research and funding to address the coronavirus outbreak.

They met to assess the current level of knowledge about the new coronavirus disease, identify gaps, and how to work together to accelerate and fund priority research needed to address the current outbreak and prepare for any future outbreaks.

The two-day forum was convened in line with the WHO Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint, a strategy for developing drugs and vaccines before epidemics and accelerating research and development while they are occurring. The meeting, hosted in collaboration with the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R), brought together larger research funders and over 300 scientists and researchers from a wide variety of disciplines.

They discussed all aspects of the outbreak and ways to control it, including: the natural history of the virus, its transmission and diagnosis; animal and environmental research on the origin of the virus, including management measures at the human-animal interface; epidemiological studies; clinical characterization and management of disease caused by the virus; infection prevention and control, including best ways to protect healthcare workers; research and development for candidate therapeutics and vaccines; ethical considerations for research; and integration of social sciences into the outbreak response.

During the meeting, the more than 300 scientists and researchers, which participated both in person and virtually, agreed on a set of global research priorities. They also outlined mechanisms for continuing scientific interactions and collaborations beyond the meeting that will be coordinated and facilitated by WHO. They worked with research funders to determine how necessary resources can be mobilized so that critical research can start immediately.

The deliberations will form the basis of a research and innovation roadmap charting all the research needed, and this will be used by researchers and funders to accelerate the research response.

Source: World Health Organization