Global scientists to focus on SARS-CoV-2 variants

Jan. 13, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to expand its focus on scientific research and monitoring of emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, according to a press release from the WHO.

A day-long virtual meeting of scientists from around the globe, convened by WHO, brought together more than 1,750 experts from 124 countries to discuss critical knowledge gaps and research priorities for emerging variants of the virus, the WHO said.

The consultation was structured around six thematic areas covering epidemiology and mathematical modelling, evolutionary biology, animal models, assays and diagnostics, clinical management and therapeutics and vaccines.

Scientists noted the importance of research to detect and understand early on the potential impact of emerging variants on diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. There was a consensus on the importance of integrating the new SARS-CoV-2 variants research into the global research and innovation agenda while enhancing coordination across disciplines.

Of the significant variants reported so far, some are associated with increases in transmissibility but not disease severity. Research is ongoing to address whether the changes impact public health tools and measures. So far, genomic sequencing has been critical in identifying and responding to new variants, the WHO noted.

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