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Scientists call for immediate research into coronavirus vaccines

Laboratory health workers around the world, including are conducting #COVID19 tests. PHOTO via @DrTedros

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Researchers have called for quick mobilization of money by donors to kick start critical research into coronavirus disease.

They highlighted research and development for candidate therapeutics and vaccines as key.

While they propose this, global health experts point out that even as the disease that started in Wuhan city in China but has spread to other countries has so far affected over 42,000 people and killed over a thousand others, major pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson and Johnson and Merck have not yet shown interest in funding any vaccine development.

At a two day meeting of global health experts that ended on Wednesday at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, researcher shared notes on what they know so far about the virus and what priorities they can embark on to stop further spread of this but also other epidemics of the same nature that tend to spread quickly around the world.

In a statement released by WHO on Thursday, Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, chairperson of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness that hosted the meeting said the over 300 researchers that attended agreed that there should be continuous mobilization of resources and aligning funding towards development of drugs and vaccines before epidemics and accelerating research and development while they are occurring.

“ Making sure we share data and reach those most in need, in particular those in lower and middle-income countries, is fundamental to this work which must be guided by ethical considerations at all times”, he said.

Also, key among what was discussed is infection prevention and control, including best ways to protect health care workers after a report published on Friday, showed that one patient infected at least 10 healthcare workers at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this meeting was called on a short notice but the research community turned up in big numbers which shows the urgency with which a concrete plan to tackle the outbreak is needed.

“This outbreak is a test of solidarity political, financial and scientific. We need to come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end and bring our best science to the forefront to find shared answers to shared problems. Research is an integral part of the outbreak response”, he said.

However, earlier as he was talking to journalists at the sidelines of the meeting, Tedros had said it might take more than a year before a vaccine is found.



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