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Funders set out principles for pandemic research

R&D support ‘should provide for rapid and equitable research’

A global group of funders has outlined principles meant to guide support for R&D into both Covid-19 and future pandemics—focusing in particular on places with fewer resources.

The Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness—a group of 29 funders including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Commission, the UK’s Medical Research Council and the US Department of Health and Human Services—says it hopes they are endorsed by funders, governments and other groups.

“These principles will guide funding for researchers to tackle Covid-19 now, as well as help for epidemics and pandemics in the future,” said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was involved in creating them. 

In a 16 July article in the Lancet medical journal, Piot and his co-authors warn that there is a real risk that poorer countries will not be able to get the research they need to inform policy against Covid-19 and future pandemics. Among the principles they propose—which might help mitigate this—are more data sharing and equitable and inter-disciplinary research partnerships.

The move has already garnered praise from some quarters.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said the framework echoes the findings of its recent report that stressed the need for equitable research. “We very much welcome these principles,” said the council in a statement.

The seven principles

  1. Alignment to global research agendas and locally identified priorities
  2. Research capacity for rapid research
  3. Supporting equitable, inclusive inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral partnerships
  4. Open science and data sharing
  5. Protection from harm
  6. Appropriate ethical consideration
  7. Collaboration and learning through enhanced coordination