A group of scientists, physicians, funders, and policy makers from over 70 institutions from over 30 countries have launched an international coalition to respond to COVID-19 in resource-poor settings. The COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition aims to accelerate desperately needed COVID-19 research in those resource-poor settings. In Africa, Latin American, Eastern European and certain Asian countries the virus could wreak havoc on already-fragile health systems. The German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) was the first organization in Germany to join the coalition.
In a Comment published today in The Lancet, the members of the coalition argue that international research collaboration and coordination is needed urgently to support African, Latin American, Eastern European, and certain Asian countries to respond effectively to the worsening pandemic and speed up research adapted to resource-limited settings.
The coalition brings together an unprecedented array of health experts, including public-sector research institutes, ministries of health, academia, not-for-profit research and development organizations, NGOs, international organisations, and funders all committed to finding COVID19 solutions for resource-poor settings.
One important research response to COVID-19 has been launched already, the World Health Organization (WHO)-led SOLIDARITY trial, an unprecedented global effort. But the authors found that out of almost 600 COVID-19 clinical trials registered, very few trials are planned in resource-poor settings. The authors commit to sharing their technical expertise and clinical trial capability to accelerate COVID-19 research in these settings.
The scale of the challenge is clearly beyond the scope of any single organization. The coalition will facilitate a coordinated approach, so that all data from all regions can be collected in a similar fashion, pooled and shared in real-time. This will help countries and the WHO to make rapid evidence-based decisions on policies and practice.
“We welcome the launch of this coalition, which takes advantage of existing multinational and multidisciplinary expertise in running clinical trials in resource poor settings, and will help the World Health Organization (WHO) in its coordinating role in the global response to COVID-19,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization. “Although the epicentre is today elsewhere, we must prepare now for the consequences of this pandemic in more resource-constrained settings or we stand to lose many more lives.”
Members of the Coalition call for specific commitments to ensure access, so that effective new treatments are made available as soon as possible in resource-poor settings and are affordable and readily accessible.
"We need to find out quickly what direct and indirect consequences COVID-19 will have in countries where health systems are far less prepared for such a situation than they are here," explains Prof. Jürgen May, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine and coordinator for DZIF. "Much more than in our case, there is a lack of diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive options. The DZIF would like to contribute in the coalition to prevent COVID-19 from hitting poor countries with full force."
"Transparent and open cooperation in science and research is extremely important in a global pandemic. We are very pleased that DZIF has joined in with the expertise of its many scientists and important scientific institutions in Germany", explains Dr. Bernard Pécoul, Managing Director of DNDi.
DNDi (Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative) started this initiative together with the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit and the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory and is working to mobilize several leading research institutions in middle and low income countries that need to be at the forefront of these efforts.
So far more than 70 organizations have joined this coalition, with a call made to other organizations ready to contribute existing capacity to join. Please contact the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), about 500 researchers from 35 institutions throughout Germany jointly develop new approaches for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. The aim of this nationwide collaboration between universities, hospitals and research institutions is to translate research results into clinical practice quickly and effectively. With this, the DZIF paves the way for developing new vaccines, diagnostic agents and drugs to treat infections. The DZIF is one of six German Centers for Health Research established by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to combat the most common diseases. More information can be found at www.dzif.de.
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an independent, international not-for-profit organization in the field of research and development and was founded in 2003. The organisation is working on new treatments for neglected diseases and has already provided eight new affordable treatments adapted to the needs of patients and a well-filled pipeline for drug development. More than 20 new chemical entities are currently in DNDi's portfolio, some of which are in late clinical development. DNDi works closely with more than 180 partners from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as well as universities and research institutions. www.dndi.org