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Fiocruz becomes part of a Coalition to accelerate research on covid-19


Julia Dias


Fiocruz is now part of a group of more than 70 scientists and institutions of more than 30 countries in an international coalition to face the Covid-19 epidemic in countries with medium and low income. Launched last Thursday (02/04), the initiative, called Covid-19 Clinical Resarch Coalition, aims to speed up research on the new coronavirus in the areas where the virus may cause serious problems in health systems that are already fragile, resulting in a higher impact on the health of vulnerable populations.

Sharing data and equitable access to treatments, drugs and vaccines are the values that guide the coalition. “These are the same values that guide Fiocruz, with a vision of open science and public health”, highlighted the president of the Foundation, Nísia Trindade Lima, demonstrating the importance of the coalition, which has among its goals generating more mobilization to ensure accessible prices. 

For the members of the coalition, the global response to the pandemic has been encouraging. New and important financing opportunities are arising almost daily. However, if areas with limited resources and vulnerable populations are not part of the global plans of evaluating the safety and efficacy of new diagnostic tools, drugs, vaccines and non-medical interventions, millions of people might have no access to all these technologies.

In a comment published on The Lancet, participants state that international collaboration and coordination in research are urgent in order to include the experience and necessities of Latin-American, African, East-European countries and certain Asian nations, and to thus respond with effectiveness to the growing pandemic and accelerate research adapted for resource-limited settings.

Fiocruz was invited to join the coalition by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi). The Foundation already leads, in Brazil, an important research response to Covid-19, the Solidarity trial, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO). Brazil’s participation is important, as there are very few clinical trials for Covid-19 planned in countries of low and medium income. 

“We have a history in the field of research and also in the production of drugs and vaccines. An initiative such as this might potentiate the development of an industrial health complex in Brazil. It is important to keep in mind the fact that the Brazilian Public Health System involves not only production, but also scientific and technological development”, states the Fiocruz president.

With the new initiative, technical knowledge and skills generated by the clinical trials will be shared with all participants, who might establish partnerships and extend these trials to other countries in their respective region or in others. Other members of the coalition can help by offering technical knowledge, funding, materials and others, to make sure the research is carried out as quickly as possible.

The coalition brings together a never-before seen team of health specialists, including scientists, physicians, research institutes of the government sector, ministries of health, academia, research and development non-profit organizations, NGOs, international organizations and sponsors. All committed to finding solutions for the Covid-19 in resource-limited settings. Among them are the government research institutes of Africa and Latin America, such as the National Institute of Biomedical Research (Democratic Republic of Congo), the National Health Institute of Colombia, the Ifakara Health Institute (Tanzania), and the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).

The coordinated action will make sure all data of all regions can be collected in a similar way, gathered together and shared in real time. This will help countries and WHO to make quick decisions on policies and practices based on scientific evidence.

“We celebrate the launching of this coalition, which exploits the multinational and multidisciplinary experience existing in the execution of clinical trials in resource-limited settings, and which will help WHO in its role of coordinating the global response against the Covid-19”, said the chief scientist of the World Health Organization, Soumya Swaminathan. “Although the epicenter is now somewhere else, we must prepare right now for the consequences of this pandemic in areas with less resources, or many lives will be lost”.

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