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Investment in science and innovation needed to tackle COVID-19 and future health threats while ensuring equitable access - expert panel

New report of the Global Health Summit Scientific Expert Panel highlights 10 urgent recommendations for global health threat prevention, preparedness and response
Global Health Summit Report cover

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, according to a new report. ‘Science and Innovation for a Safer World’, developed by the Global Health Summit Scientific Expert Panel, identifies the main areas for immediate action to control the acute stage of the pandemic while preparing for the probability that SARS-CoV-2 will become endemic.

It argues that actions today to address COVID-19 should include investments and response measures that have the greatest potential for sustainably improved global health threat prevention, preparedness and response in the future.

The panel outlines a scientific vision for global preparedness and response grounded in the principles of scientific inquiry, equity, multilateralism, solidarity, sustainability, transparency, and cooperation.

It identifies 10 priority areas for immediate action: global equitable access to health supplies and medical tools against COVID-19 and other health threats, research and innovation, involvement of research groups in low- and middle-income countries, integrated disease surveillance and data sharing, science advice, health workforce and systems strengthening, regional manufacturing capacities, public trust, well-coordinated governance and financing, and sustainable health.

The scientific report will inform deliberations at the Global Health Summit which takes place on Friday 21 May 2021, in Rome, in view of Leaders adopting a ‘Rome Declaration’ with guiding principles for preparedness against future health crises.

The Panel - including Professor Peter Piot as one of five co-chairs, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Special Advisor to the President of the European Commission - was established by the European Commission and the Italian G20 Presidency. It gathers 26 senior scientific experts from around the world, experienced in local and global COVID-19 responses.

The other Panel co-chairs include Professor Silvio Brusaferro, President of the Italian National Institute of Health; Dr Victor Dzau, President of the National Academy of Medicine; Professor Yee-Sin Leo, Director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore; and Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Professor Peter Piot said: “If there is a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is international scientific collaboration, which delivered safe and effective vaccines in record time. We must now seize this momentum. We urge leaders and societies to immediately implement our ten key recommendations to ensure research and innovation is the driving force behind our emergence from the pandemic into a healthier, safer, and more equitable world.”

The report includes 10 key urgent recommendations for global health threat prevention, preparedness and response:

  1. End the acute stage of the pandemic and leave no one behind: Ensure equitable access to medical tools to fight COVID-19;
  2. Invest in scientific research & development before, during, and in between health crises;
  3. Actively and genuinely involve research groups in low- and middle-income countries;
  4. Strengthen integrated disease surveillance, data collection, analysis and sharing at all levels;
  5. Strengthen and protect science advice;
  6. Be ready for the next health crisis: invest in standing systems and workforce for preparedness and response;
  7. Strengthen regional manufacturing capacities and hubs;
  8. Empower and earn trust of people;
  9. Collaborate & coordinate at all levels: strengthen relevant governance structures and leadership, and ensure adequate financing; and
  10. Address the problem at the root: Reduce risks through more sustainable ways of living.

Watch the Global Health Summit on Friday May 21 2021.

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