Priorities for COVID-19 research response and preparedness in low-resource settings

12 May, 2021
COVID-19 poses particular threats in low-resource settings, which typically have underfunded health-care systems and insufficient influence on the global health research agenda. Leadership and coordination have been shown in COVID-19 research in such settings, particularly across Africa, building on earlier experience from research on diseases such as Ebola virus disease and HIV. However, global coordination to achieve a coherent research response and ensure sufficient context-specific research has been challenging. As funders and researchers, we recognised the need to facilitate collective efforts in low-income and middleincome countries (LMICs) early in the pandemic. The Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R)1 and the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) are both collaborative groups of research funders. Each has working groups specific to research on epidemic preparedness and response in LMICs; together they established the COVID-19 Research Coordination and Learning Initiative (COVID CIRCLE)2 to align and strengthen their response in, with, and for LMICs. The COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition3 hosted by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) was established to facilitate and accelerate COVID-19 research in LMICs, ensure that the needs of LMICs are considered, and strive for equitable access to solutions. Within the context of these groups, the initiatives have sought to support a cohesive research response by aligning funders to joint principles;2 mapping research to ensure visibility and improve coherence;4–7 supporting development of locally identified, contextspecific research priorities;8,9 and supporting researcher interaction and collaboration through working groups. Funding by global research funders for COVID-19, as captured in the UKCDR and GloPID-R COVID-19 project tracker, has plateaued in the past 4 months.7 In March, 2021, the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition, GloPID-R, UKCDR, and partners held a consultative meeting for researchers and funders to review and discuss COVID-19 research in LMICs.

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