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Rapid response to:


Preparing for the next pandemic

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 21 May 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1295

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Rapid Response:

Re: Preparing for the next pandemic

Dear Editor

Lessons from pandemic: Covid-19 type research approach

Preparing for next pandemic is a global public health concern and it is well voiced by Wenham et al (1).But the pertinent question may be why only pandemic and why not other epidemics of many diseases which kill millions of people worldwide every year for the last many years. Do we need a Covid-19 type research approach for saving life from other diseases ?

Covid-19 tremendously awakened scientific research and scientific communities all over the world (2). The challenge has brought academic organizations, private R&Ds, policy makers, regulatory authorities, clinicians, manufacturing experts, engineers, basic science researchers and government machinery together beyond boundaries and boarders across the globe as never before. This has led to the emergence of collaborations, alignment, preparedness, open science and data sharing among scientific communities (3). Probably, in this century, like many others, we feel excited to see such committed interactions among scientific communities on research to tackle Covid-19. Humanity has been challenged for many years by many epidemic of life threatening diseases like stroke, lung diseases, metabolic disorders, cancer, malaria, HIV, Ebola, tuberculosis, hepatitis and other non- communicable diseases(4).

Many organizations in developed and developing countries spend huge money in carrying out research in silos in these areas for many years. Some of this research carried out in small group in isolation certainly brings some marginal benefit to the population and to the scientists. In spite of such research, diagnosis and treatment options are still remain inconclusive for the life threatening diseases. Synchronized global and national efforts seem much more effective and efficient than uncoordinated sub-national responses (5). To manage and prevent such life threatening diseases, we require convergence and synergy among global research communities as we witness in Covid-19 research. This doesn’t necessarily mean to imply “covidization” approach (6). If such Covid-19 type research approach had been applied to non- pandemic life threatening diseases, probably we could have had excellent diagnostic measures, prevention and treatment strategies for various diseases thereby saving millions of human lives. We urgently need a Covid-19 type research approach by global leaders, scientific and medical communities beyond boundaries to engage in war footing research to eradicate many of these age old diseases killing humans for many years.

1) Wenham C, Kavanagh M, Torres I, Yamey G. Preparing for the next pandemic BMJ 2021; 373:n1295 doi:10.1136/bmj.n1295.
2) Forman R, Atun R , McKee M , Mossialos E. 12 Lessons learned from the management of the coronavirus pandemic. Health Policy 124, 577(2020)
3) Collins FS. COVID-19 lessons for research. Science 371, 1081(2021)
4) World Health Organization. The top 10 causes of death 9 December 2020
5) Salas RN. Lessons from the covid-19 pandemic provide a blueprint for the climate emergency BMJ 2020; 370 :m3067 doi:10.1136/bmj.m3067
6) Adam D. Scientists fear that ‘covidization’ is distorting research Nature 588, 381 (2020).

Dipshikha Chakravortty,
Professor, Astra Chair, Humboldt Fellow,
SERC Fellow, Tata Innovation Fellow,
Department of Microbiology & Cell Biology,
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India

K.S. Nandakumar
Practicing Medical Scientist
E-11, Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore, India 560012

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 May 2021
Dipshikha Chakravortty
Professor & Astra Chair, Humboldt Fellow, SERC Fellow, Tata Innovation Fellow
K.S.Nandakumar, Practicing Medical Scientist, E-11, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
,Indian Institute of Science,
Dept of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Bangalore, India