WHO launches global research forum against novel coronavirus

A global research and innovation forum led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) was launched on Tuesday to mobilise international action in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The forum co-hosted by the WHO and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness is funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A 2-day forum kicked off at 9 a.m. Geneva time (0800 GMT) on Tuesday and is expected to end on Wednesday.

The forum gathers roughly 400 participants, both live and online, including leading scientists from virus-related disciplines around the world.

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Others are representatives of countries with confirmed novel coronavirus cases and those of public health agencies, ethics experts with related expertise, and representatives of major research donors.

Chinese representatives from the National Health Commission and the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention will brief the forum on China’s research on the outbreak, listen to views of all parties and participate in discussions.

According to the WHO, the forum is to identify the uncharted waters of the virus, prioritise research options and coordinate global efforts to avoid duplication of research, and speed up vaccine and medicine development.

A roadmap for the scientific research against the virus is expected to be released following the forum.

The WHO has said that the forum will focus on nine aspects: patterns of the novel coronavirus, the animal and environment from which the virus originated as well as epidemiological investigation on the spread of the virus.

Others are clinical treatment, nosocomial infection control, medicine development, candidate vaccines, research ethics, and social science and public health measures in outbreak response.

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Experts say that one of the hot topics is how to establish an effective data and sample sharing mechanism, which the WHO has kept calling for and pushing forward.

This also including surveillance, research and development of effective vaccines and therapeutic drugs are only possible with a strain.

Meanwhile, the WHO may also need to coordinate how a strain sharer can participate and share the benefits of future research.

So far, China, Japan and Italy have all successfully isolated virus strains from the outbreak and said they would like to share them.

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