COVID-19: Coalition to accelerate research on prevention, treatment in resource-limited nations

By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor 

A group of scientists, physicians, funders, and policymakers from over 70 institutions in over 30 countries have launched an international coalition to respond to COVID-19 in resource-poor settings. 

The COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition, in a statement issued by it and made available to Newsdiaryonline on Friday, aims to accelerate “the needed COVID-19 research in those areas where the virus could wreak havoc on already-fragile health systems as well as cause the greatest health impact on vulnerable populations.” 

According to the Coalition, international research collaboration and coordination is needed urgently to support African, Latin American, Eastern European, and certain Asian countries, to respond effectively to the worsening pandemic and speed up research adapted to resource-limited settings.

Membership of the coalition include health experts, public-sector research institutes, ministries of health, academia, not-for-profit research and development organizations, NGOs, international organisations, and funders, who are committed to finding COVID19 solutions for resource-poor settings. 

The Coalition disclosed that important research response to COVID-19 had been launched, with the World Health Organization (WHO)-led solidarity trial, which is an unprecedented global effort.

But the authors of the research response observed that cout of almost 600 COVID-19 clinical trials registered, very few trials are planned in resource-poor settings.”

They therefore commit to sharing their technical expertise and clinical trial capability to accelerate COVID-19 research in these settings. 

According to the statement, the scale of the challenge is clearly beyond the scope of any single organization, adding that the coalition will facilitate a coordinated approach, so that all data from all regions could be collected in a similar fashion, pooled and shared in real-time. 

This, it stated, would help countries and the WHO to make rapid evidence-based decisions on policies and practice.   

“We welcome the launch of this coalition, which takes advantage of existing multinational and multidisciplinary expertise in running clinical trials in resource poor settings, and will help the World Health Organization (WHO) in its coordinating role in the global response to COVID-19,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization. 

“Although the epicentre is today elsewhere, we must prepare now for the consequences of this pandemic in more resource-constrained settings or we stand to lose many more lives.”

Members of the Coalition therefore called for specific commitments to ensure access, so that effective new treatments are made available as soon as possible in resource-poor settings and are affordable and readily accessible.

So far more than 70 organizations have joined this coalition, with a call made to other organizations ready to contribute existing capacity to join.