By Aaron Recuenco
Four hundred scientists and health experts from around the world are expected to meet this week to discuss and mobilize action plans in addressing the threat of the 2019 novel Corona Virus.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said the meeting will take place at the WHO General Headquarters in Geneva from February 11-12.
“In the spirit of scientific solidarity, 400 of the world’s leading experts will gather this week at @WHO HQ Geneva to prioritize work on all the tools we need, including rapid diagnostics, a vaccine & effective treatments,” Ghebreyesus posted on his Twitter account on Monday.
The forum is organized in collaboration with the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness.
Participants such as the world’s leading scientists to public health agencies and research funders– are expected to discuss and share research results and insights that include the identification of the source of the virus and sharing of biological samples and genetic sequences.
“Experts will build on existing SARS and MERS coronavirus research and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities in order to accelerate scientific information and medical products most needed to minimize the impact of the 2019-nCoV outbreak,” WHO said.
SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, killed more or less 800 people from November, 2002, to July, 2003. It originated from the southern part of China.
MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is also a deadly viral infection that caused the death of more than 800 people worldwide since 2012.
“Harnessing the power of science is critical for bringing this outbreak under control,” said Ghebreyesus.
WHO stated that the meeting ‘is expected to produce a global research agenda for the new coronavirus, setting priorities and frameworks that can guide which projects are undertaken first.’
“This will also fast-track the development and evaluation of effective diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines, while establishing mechanisms for affordable access to vulnerable populations and facilitating community engagement,” the statement read.