Over the first 6 weeks of the new decade, the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has spread from the People’s Republic of China to 20 other countries.
On 30 January 2020 following the recommendations of the Emergency Committee, the WHO Director General declared that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
In view of the urgency of this outbreak, the international community is mobilising to find ways to significantly accelerate the development of interventions. The WHO R&D Blueprint is a global strategy and preparedness plan that allows the rapid activation of R&D activities during epidemics. Its aim is to fast-track the availability of effective tests, vaccines and medicines that can be used to save lives and avert large scale crisis.
World experts on COVID-19 met at the World Health Organization’s Geneva headquarters from 11 to 12 February 2020 to assess the current level of knowledge about the new virus, agree on critical research questions that need to be answered urgently and ways to work together to accelerate and fund priority research that can contribute to curtail this outbreak and prepare for future outbreaks.
The global imperative for the research community is to maintain a high-level discussion platform which enables consensus on strategic directions, nurtures scientific collaborations and, supports optimal and rapid research to address crucial gaps, without duplication of efforts.