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Scientists, financiers meet to develop vaccine for COVID-19

By Aaron Recuenco

Health experts from around the world are now meeting with research funders to start the development of medicines and vaccines for the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-2019), an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has convened "an emergency committee" on the current outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo's violence-torn North Kivu region (AFP Photo/TED ALJIBE / MANILA BULLETIN)WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has convened "an emergency committee" on the current outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo's violence-torn North Kivu region (AFP Photo/TED ALJIBE / MANILA BULLETIN)

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (AFP Photo/TED ALJIBE / MANILA BULLETIN/ FILE)

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyrsus said on the agenda are easy-to-apply diagnostics, best approaches for infection prevention and potential therapies that could be used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Also included in the discussion, the official said, is the acceleration of the development of potential COVID-19 vaccines.

“We’re also doing deeper investigations to identify the source of this virus and to prevent further transmission from animals to humans,” said Ghebreyuses in a statement released by WHO.

Currently, Ghebreyesus said WHO experts are developing a master plan for coordinating clinical trials to ensure that they are done “coherently and consistently.”

More than 300 health experts met in Geneva for a two-day forum aimed at addressing all the problems relating to COVID-19.

The two-day forum was convened in line with the WHO R&D Blueprint – a strategy for developing drugs and vaccines before epidemics, and accelerating research and development while they are occurring.

“Research is an integral part of the outbreak response,” said Ghebreyesus.

“This outbreak is a test of solidarity — political, financial and scientific. We need to come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end and bring our best science to the forefront to find shared answers to shared problems,” he added.

The meeting was hosted by the GloPID-R (the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness), a global alliance of international research funding organizations investing in preparedness and response to epidemics.

Among the topics discussed were:
• 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 health care workers;
• research and development for candidate therapeutics and vaccines;
• ethical considerations for research;
• and integration of social sciences into the outbreak response.

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.

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