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WHO to accelerate research and innovation for new coronavirus
credits to WHO https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
WHO is convening a global research and innovation forum to mobilize international action in response to the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
“Harnessing the power of science is critical for bringing this outbreak under control,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “There are questions we need answers to, and tools we need developed as quickly as possible. WHO is playing an important coordinating role by bringing the scientific community together to identify research priorities and accelerate progress.”
The forum, to be held 11-12 February in Geneva, is organized in collaboration with the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness.
The forum will bring together key players including leading scientists as well as public health agencies, ministries of health and research funders pursuing 2019-nCoV critical animal health and public health research and the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, among other innovations.
Participants will discuss several areas of research, including identifying the source of the virus as well as sharing of biological samples and genetic sequences.
Experts will build on existing SARS and MERS coronavirus research and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities in order to accelerate scientific information and medical products most needed to minimize the impact of the 2019-nCoV outbreak.
The meeting is expected to produce a global research agenda for the new coronavirus, setting priorities and frameworks that can guide which projects are undertaken first. “Understanding the disease, its reservoirs, transmission and clinical severity and then developing effective counter-measures is critical for the control of the outbreak, to reduce deaths and minimize the economic impact,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist.
This will also fast-track the development and evaluation of effective diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines, while establishing mechanisms for affordable access to vulnerable populations and facilitating community engagement.
“The WHO R&D Blueprint is a global strategy and preparedness platform that drives coordinated development of drugs and vaccines before epidemics, and allows the rapid activation of R&D activities during epidemics. It speeds up the availability of the diagnostics, vaccines and treatments and technologies that ultimately save lives,” added Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
Setting clear global research priorities for the novel coronavirus should lead to more efficient investments, high-quality research and synergies among global researchers.
Online training as a weapon to fight the new coronavirus
More than 25 000 people across the globe have accessed real-time knowledge from WHO experts on how to detect, prevent, respond to and control the new coronavirus in the 10 days since the launch of an open online training.
The learning team of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme worked with technical experts to quickly develop and publish the online course on 26 January – 4 days before the 2019-nCoV outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern.
Approximately 3000 new users have registered for the training every day since its launch, demonstrating the high level of interest in the virus among health professionals and the general public. In addition, more than 200 000 people have viewed the introductory video to the course on YouTube.
The high engagement levels emerged as the international community launched a US$675 million preparedness and response plan to fight further spread of the new coronavirus and protect states with weaker health systems.
The free learning resource is available to anyone interested in novel coronavirus on WHO’s open learning platform for emergencies, OpenWHO.org. The platform was established 3 years ago with emergencies such as nCoV in mind, in which WHO would need to reach millions of people across the globe with real-time, accessible learning materials.
The online training – entitled “Emerging respiratory viruses, including nCoV: methods for detection, prevention, response and control” – is currently being produced in all official UN languages and Portuguese.
“Our job is to work with technical health experts to package knowledge using adult learning principles, quickly so that it is most useful to health workers and our staff,” said Heini Utunen, who manages OpenWHO for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (WHE). “Our online platform – OpenWHO – is already accessed by users from every country on earth, providing more than 60 courses in 21 languages. Delivering trainings in the local language of responders is really important, especially in an emergency”.
WHE has been investing in learning and training to strengthen preparedness and real-time response to health emergencies. The programme developed its first-ever learning strategy in 2018 and has a small dedicated Learning and Capacity Development Unit that allows WHE to develop trainings quickly and get know-how to those who most need it at the front line.
For the latest information on the new coronavirus, visit the 2019-nCoV page.