Globally Prepared for Pandemic Research

Comparing the world to a spaceship with 7.6 billion passengers that could be under various threats, Dr. Steve Webb, Clinical Trial Networks (CTN) Working Group Member representing APPRISE, underlined the importance of conducting preparatory work in the inter-pandemic period to quickly launch research during fast-moving pandemics.

Dr. Webb gave his presentation “Pandemics Cross Borders: How to Tackle Them from a Global Perspective” at the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 47th Critical Care Congress on February 25-28, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

“The threat that is regarded as the most likely to result in more than 10 million deaths is a tiny microscopic threat. It’s influenza or some other pathogen with pandemic potential,” says Dr. Webb. He then points out some past epidemics, such as the 1918 Spanish Influenza, which saw 500 million people infected and 50 – 200 million deaths. Effectively, 3-5% of the world’s total population died from this deadly virus.

“Research can change the trajectory, particularly the capacity to conduct randomized controlled trials during a pandemic as long as it is pre-planned, pre-approved and practiced,” Dr. Webb continues while stressing the need for global coordination of research efforts and highlighting current networks working toward that effort, including:

  • International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC)
  • Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-)Emerging Epidemics (PREPARE)
  • Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE)
  • International Forum for Acute Care Trialists (InFACT)
  • Discovery Critical Care Research Network.

The first three networks listed also participate in GloPID-R’s Clinical Trial Networks (CTN) Working Group.

These networks support the programs such as SPRINT-SARI (Short Period Incidence Study of Severe Acute Respiratory Illness) and REMAP-CAP (Randomized Embedded Multifactorial Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia). Their work is described further in Dr. Webb’s presentation.

In addition to this presentation, Critical Care Medicine published an article in March 2018 by Dr. Webb and Dr. Alistair Nichol (member of ISARIC and PREPARE), “Bending the Pandemic Curve: Improving Decision-Making With Clinical Research.” The article urges public health agencies and stakeholders worldwide to improve global coordination and integration of research efforts. It highlights the current existing lack of coordination and agreement about what research would be done, and by whom, in the event of a pandemic.

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.