New clinical trials deal struck to better protect world from future pandemics

  • Resolution will help developing countries to run their own drug and vaccine trials
  • UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid calls agreement a ‘landmark moment’ in world’s journey to pandemic preparedness

Millions of people across the world will be better protected from future pandemics thanks to a landmark resolution brought by the UK and Argentina at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva today (Friday 27 May).

By encouraging more specific funding, the resolution will help developing countries increase their capacity to run their own clinical trials – helping them to test new drugs, vaccines and other health interventions which will benefit their populations – while working across countries to respond to future pandemics more rapidly.

As well as helping countries to respond faster in a public health emergency, the resolution will also help countries tackle existing health challenges such as tuberculosis, diabetes, and mental health problems.

There will also be closer collaboration between researchers on clinical trials across the world – reducing research waste – while increased transparency will mean the results of trials will be more readily shared between countries.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:

We saw from Covid how important it is for countries to share information quickly and this resolution represents another landmark moment in the world’s journey to pandemic preparedness.

Clinical trials are vital for testing and producing lifesaving drugs and vaccines, and this resolution led by the UK and Argentina will make it much easier for developing countries to run their own trials – protecting them and others from another pandemic.

The resolution aims to strengthen clinical trials of all health interventions, not just drugs and vaccines. For example, trials for new diagnostics, surgical procedures, or behavioural interventions. It will also help to achieve the goal of developing new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines within 100 days of a new pandemic threat being identified.

The resolution urges research funders to invest in developing countries and deliver trials to tackle health problems which disproportionately affect their populations. It also commits countries to increased international co-ordination to rapidly evaluate drugs and vaccines in any future pandemic.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care used his speech on Monday to call for Taiwan to be given observer status at the WHA which would give them access to the relevant technical meetings that would help them prepare for another pandemic.

The resolution is the latest UK led endeavour to prepare the world for another pandemic, and follows the signing of the Pact for Pandemic Preparedness at the end of the G7 health ministers meeting in Berlin last week which will see G7 countries share their Covid inspired initiatives, including those on detection and surveillance.

Notes:

  1. The full resolution is available here: Strengthening clinical trials to provide high-quality evidence on health interventions and to improve research quality and coordination (who.int)

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