Global coalition for Covid-19 research suited for poor countries

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on April 05, 2020

Medical scientists, funders and policy makers from 30 countries have tied up to launch an international coalition which would help develop protocols for Covid-19 prevention, diagnosis and patient management in low and middle income countries.

The Covid-19 Clinical Research Coalition (CCRC) stems from the realisation that a global effort is required urgently to support African, Latin American, East European and certain Asian countries to respond effectively to the pandemic, which has impacted more than a million people in the world so far. Most of these countries are not yet hit by Covid-19 in a big way, but if it does, it may have a catastrophic effect on public healthcare infrastructure in most of these countries. The coalition was announced in a comment that appeared in the Lancet journal on Thursday. Experts from as many as 70 institutions, including two from India — the Translational Health Science and technology Institute (THSTI) in Faridabad and Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore — are part of the coalition.

“The coalition is a group of individuals coming together to voice for getting evidence which are relevant to low and middle income countries. This will help us quickly adapt our strategies and prevention and treatment policies,” said George Varghese, a professor of infectious diseases at CMC, who is also a signatory.

The research response to the pandemic has been vigorous, and new funding is emerging almost daily. But if resource-limited settings and particularly vulnerable populations are not part of global plans to evaluate safety and effectiveness of new diagnostic tools, drugs, vaccines, and non-medical interventions, millions could be denied access to proven interventions and guidance, the CRCC said. For instance, of the almost 600 Covid-19 clinical trials registered, very few are planned in resource-poor settings.

The scale of the challenge is clearly beyond the scope of any single organisation. The coalition will facilitate a coordinated approach, so that data from all regions can be collected in a similar fashion, pooled and shared in real-time. This will help countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) to make rapid evidence-based decisions on policies and practice, they said.

“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 WHO in its coordinating role in the global response to COVID-19,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO . “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.”

Published on April 03, 2020

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