This global crisis demands a global response
The world has changed drastically since you all read the GloPID-R Newsletter in November, where Barbara Kerstiëns made a convincing case for preparedness, including against a respiratory pandemic. How prophetic that now seems. It was for such an event that GloPID-R was formed, and why Wellcome is so proud to be a partner.
SARS-CoV2 has spread with incredible speed, challenging every health care system, and shocking societies and economies around the world. We need a response which is not just international – but truly global. We recognise that the interconnectedness of researchers and funders around the world is crucial to stopping this outbreak. There is no doubt that our past efforts have left us better prepared than we ever were before, but we all recognise it was not enough.
It has been hugely encouraging to see GloPID-R members leading in the early stages of this response, with welcome support from the Secretariat, in aligning these efforts: particularly during and after the WHO Global Research & Innovation Forum in February. We must continue to increase this sense of urgency and scale our collective response even further. We must advocate for much more funding and for coordinated research that will change the tide of the pandemic. There is little value in being pleased to do things faster than usual, if that pace is still behind the speed of the pandemic.
I’m also hugely encouraged by the rapid responses for social sciences and mental health research, and for the development of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines: including the WHO’s facilitation of a multi-country, multi-arm Global Solidarity Trial for therapeutics with all associated partners.
Now, as this pandemic impacts more countries and communities, we must also focus our attention to ensure all countries have the best possible chance to respond to COVID-19. For this moment presents us with a fundamental choice about our values and the sort of future world we want.
We may emerge from this more united, better prepared for future crises, and with renewed faith in research and the power of sciences. Or this crisis may shake countries’ commitments to global solidarity, leaving us more polarised, and less able to respond to this pandemic and a host of other urgent health challenges. I know all of us desperately want to see the former: we have a crucial role in making that happen.
Throughout history, the world has faced a series of great crises. In the aftermath there is always a choice. Do we seek to apportion blame, exact reparations and become ever more polarised? Or do we seek to come together, learn lessons, and refashion a more collective and cohesive world? We will face such a choice.
GloPID-R Acting Chair
The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA)
A view from Africa by Dr Marie Jaspard, Coordinator of ALIMA hemorrhagic fevers research program
GloPID-R is delighted to include this insight into the work of the NGO, ALIMA in this edition of our Newsletter
As COVID-19 completely dominates the world’s attention, people in Nigeria continue to die from Lassa Fever, far removed from the media spotlight. And while the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) occupied the media spotlight six months ago, nearly 1,000 people who survived the disease are waiting for researchers to implement a “survivors follow up” program. In terms of international medical research, one disease can chase away another. But outbreaks occur in developing countries regardless of the attention paid, and research is essential if we are to find the necessary tools to fight these diseases.