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WHO launches global research forum against coronavirus


Geneva: A two-day global research and innovation forum led by the World Health Organization (WHO) was launched here Tuesday to mobilise international action in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Co-hosted by the WHO and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness and funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the forum kicked off at 9 a.m.(local time) on Tuesday and is expected to conclude at the end of Wednesday, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The forum gathers roughly 400 participants, both live and online, including leading scientists from virus-related disciplines around the world, 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 Center 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, prioritize 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, an epidemiological investigation on the spread of the virus, clinical treatment, nosocomial infection control, medicine development, candidate vaccines, research ethics, and social science and public health measures in outbreak response.

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, as 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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