PerspectiveViewpoint: COVID-19

Advancing new tools for infectious diseases

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Science  20 Nov 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6519, pp. 913-914
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe0773

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Summary

Several infectious diseases cause considerable mortality worldwide each year: Tuberculosis causes ∼1.2 million deaths, diarrheal disease causes ∼1.5 million deaths, and lower respiratory infections cause ∼700,000 deaths in children under 5 years old (1). Yet the scale and speed of innovation in developing tools for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) dwarf the development of those for global infectious diseases, which disproportionally affect resource-limited countries. By August 2020, ∼175 therapeutics and vaccines were in clinical trials for COVID-19 (2). By contrast, for 41 global infectious diseases or disease groups, only ∼250 therapeutics and vaccines were in clinical trials in August 2019 (3). A robust product pipeline and abridged development time frame for COVID-19 has primarily been enabled by three factors: scientific advances, operational efficiencies, and large-scale at-risk financing. A clear, well-financed path from research through product procurement now exists for COVID-19, shortening timelines while increasing output. This could underpin an approach for global infectious diseases.

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