GloPID-R Scientific Advisory Group releases report with COVID-19 research priorities and recommendations
The key priorities identified in COVID-19 Research Recommendations & Considerations for GloPID-R, 2021-2023 will inform the global network’s coordinated approach to research funding on COVID-19 over the next 12 to 18 months. To accompany the report, the GloPID-R co-chairs have issued a set of recommendations for actions and planning in the near future.
The report released by the GloPID-R Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) emphasizes a clear need for greater coordination and efficiency to address the current pandemic as well as future infectious diseases emergencies. The entire report is being made public as the GloPID-R leadership believes that all research funders can benefit from the findings. Along with the Co-Chairs Recommendations, it represents a valuable tool to inform decisions as the world continues to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Scientific Advisory Group identified specific areas of COVID-19 research that are especially important to fund in the near future, in alignment with the WHO Blueprint Revised Research Agenda, in part by using an innovative scenario-planning method under the guidance of experts from the Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.
Improving coordination among funders
“GloPID-R is very grateful to the SAG members for sharing their expertise and committing time to bring this important report together,” said Dr. Charu Kaushic, GloPID-R Chair. “The Co-Chairs Recommendations were the result of careful deliberations of the SAG report that will help guide the actions of GloPID-R members. Hopefully, they will also serve to engage the global community in discussing coordinated actions among the major research funders in the pandemic preparedness and response space.”
As a member of the SAG and an active participant in the deliberations, Dr. Moses Alobo, Progamme Manager at the African Academy of Sciences, underlined the significance of the report’s findings. “GloPID-R provides a clear strategy to interact with and improve coordination across the meta-organization of funders, such as access to COVID-19 tools, accelerator therapeutics, diagnostics, and global surveillance. The proposed ‘moon shot projects’ can potentially change the course of this and future pandemics if implemented with regimental precision.”
GloPID-R Co-Chairs recommendations
Following a succinct overview of the report, the Co-Chairs Recommendations focus on three main areas:
- Expansion of the strategic focus to preparedness and response in Low- and Middle- Income Countries (LMICs);
- Development of a model for coordinated funding and adoption of “scenario- independent” research priorities;
- Efforts to align priorities with the anticipated 2021 WHO COVID-19 R&D Roadmap.
The recommendations, which include adopting certain research priorities identified by the SAG beyond the scope of the 2020 WHO & GloPID-R COVID-19 research roadmap, are intended to strengthen the ongoing work of GloPID-R’s existing working groups on data sharing, social sciences, clinical trials coordination and capacity building in Low- and Middle- Income Countries (LMICs). Dr. Moses Alobo stressed that funding to improve preparedness and response in LMICs must be a priority for funders going forward. “LMICs need a concerted global security effort to ensure the success of humankind against this epidemic. The report proposes ways in which LMICs funding remains top of mind and counter the uncovered issues,” he said.
The report findings also highlight the need to improve funding for social sciences research in pandemics. “This GloPID-R report emphasizes how social sciences research is desperately needed to better understand the root social drivers of pandemics like COVID-19 and to address their devastatingly inequitable consequences,” said Dr. Steven Hoffman, Chair of the GloPID-R Social Sciences Research Working Group and a SAG member.
The Scientific Advisory Group (SAG)*
Created in February 2021, the advisory group was mandated to provide recommendations to the GloPID-R chairs about research priorities and to identify areas of strategic importance for the organization. The Group, comprised of scientists, policymakers and funders, met over a three-month period under the leadership of Professor Marion Koopmans, GloPID-R Scientific Advisor. During this time, the SAG developed three plausible scenarios for COVID-19 research and the related infectious disease research landscape.
The Scenario-Planning Approach
Alongside his colleagues, Professor Rafael Ramirez, Director of the Oxford Scenarios Programme, worked with the GloPID-R Secretariat and the GloPID-R Scientific Advisory Group to implement this innovative approach. “We explored how the future might unfold over the next ten years to 2030, building bespoke scenarios that best described these future worlds. We were then able to look back from the year 2030, equipped with the insights that had been generated, to assess what COVID-19 and infectious disease funding priorities might be most useful to society,” he said.
Dr. Gail Carson, Scientific Manager of the GloPID-R Secretariat, originally suggested working with Professor Ramirez’s team. “Scenarios can help provide a framework to deal with uncertainties and the pandemic has created lots of uncertainty. Hopefully, by considering these plausible scenarios we can be ready for what unfolds in the ongoing pandemic,” she said. The Secretariat greatly facilitated the work of the SAG and played a substantial role in producing the report.
For the global health funders community, the scenarios that partially provide the basis for the SAG Report findings may serve to start a strategic conversation. They can be updated and reframed to feed an ongoing learning process, so that all funders will be better coordinated and prepared for future pandemics.
*GloPID-R Scientific Advisory Group
- Chair: Marion Koopmans (GloPID-R Scientific Advisor)
- Lina Moses (GOARN Research – Tulane University)
- Moses Alobo (African Academy of Sciences)
- Nahoko Shindo (WHO)
- Nicole Lurie (CEPI)
- Steven Hoffman (CIHR)
- Xavier de Lamballerie (University of Marseilles)
- Yazdan Yazdanpanah (INSERM/ANRS, GloPID-R Vice-Chair)
The Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness is a network of 32 funding organisations and 4 observers investing in infectious diseases research preparedness and response.
About the Oxford Scenario Planning Approach
This approach to strategize and learn helps leaders to realize their role in using scenarios to enable their organisations to learn faster and better about changing conditions, and to rehearse options before the need to be implemented.
Oxford Scenarios Programme
Dr. Giuseppe Paparella
GloPID-R Policy Officer
GloPID-R Communication and Advocacy Manager
GloPID-R Communication Officer
The work of the GloPID-R Secretariat is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under GloPID-R SEC 2 Grant Agreement no. 874667.