Collaboration key to addressing COVID-19
With global collaboration essential in tackling COVID-19, this past week has seen Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, contributing to a range of discussions across Australian states and territories, and international borders.
The dialogue chaired by Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Dr Kelvin Droegemeier focused this week on the ongoing work to organise data and share knowledge about COVID-19 and its spread, including
- sharing information on the worldwide proportion of people diagnosed with the illness, including those who were asymptomatic;
- sharing the outcomes of serological testing and surveillance, which will help to get a full picture of the disease;
- coordinating with WHO International Health Regulations National Focal Points to share case data;
- encouraging expedited approvals of clinical trials and sharing outcomes and best practice among countries.
The weekly dialogue is designed to bring together global counterparts to understand the progress of COVID-19. Along with Australia, other nations participating in the weekly calls are Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Dr Finkel represented Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, at a UNESCO virtual Ministerial meeting to discuss COVID-19, open science and international cooperation. This event brought together 78 Ministers and almost 200 participants via videoconference.
Dr Finkel’s statement to the conference highlighted Australia’s commitment to working with other economies to increase levels of R&D funding for vaccines and medicines, leverage digital technologies and strengthen international cooperation. Participants agreed that full and immediate opening of access to scientific publications and data relating to COVID-19 was vital, a call already heeded by the major scholarly publishers.
Closer to home, the Forum of Australian Chief Scientists also met this week to discuss the shared challenge for Australia in tackling COVID-19. The meeting covered the extensive work at the national and state and territory level to meet the need for diagnostic test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Dr Finkel said, “It’s important to recognise the substantial work being done by governments, non-government organisations, industry and the research sector everywhere, at all levels. Working together is vital in our response to COVID-19.”