Minderoo Foundation has joined with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mastercard, Health Data Research UK and other partners to form a global alliance to share data on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance sees philanthropy, academia, industry and governments come together to foster a trustworthy ecosystem for the sharing of COVID-19 data internationally, and to break-down siloes that slow down new treatments.
Minderoo Foundation Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO said the philanthropy’s commitment to the alliance would help underpin global sharing of breakthrough findings on the novel virus and speed up treatments to save lives.
“The only way we’re going to relegate COVID-19 to the dustbin of history is through open data sharing and collaboration. We must help the experts to share their knowledge as this will limit death tolls around the world. I personally thank Bill for getting this critical initiative rolling,” Dr Forrest said.
“I would like the silver lining of this pandemic to be enhanced data sharing by all the world’s medical researchers, not only for COVID-19 but future pandemics and other diseases such as cancer. This Data Alliance enshrines the key message of COVID-19: that collaboration must be the new normal.”
COVID-19 is present in at least 188 countries and territories, with more than 10 million infections confirmed, and represents an unprecedented public health, social and economic crisis. The International Alliance will unite international clinical trials and biomedical and health researchers to accelerate discoveries that benefit all people.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in my lifetime, but it’s great to see action from people like Andrew and Nicola Forrest, who have devoted their lives to the broader fight against disease and disadvantage,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The world needs global cooperation to slow the spread of this pandemic, and the ideas and resources from Andrew, Nicola, and their foundation will hopefully help advance these efforts.”
Minderoo Foundation is also supporting an expansion of two existing Australian clinical trials – REMAP-CAP and ASCOT – into low-and-middle-income countries, to help tackle the spread of the virus through developing countries. One of REMAP-CAP’s principal investigators will join the International Alliance’s Scientific Advisory Board, to help drive data sharing to and from research groups across the Asia-Pacific.
The International Alliance builds upon a network of scientific and clinical expertise internationally and provides access to diverse data sources, learning from previous ambitious collaborative research projects like the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Human Genome Project. It complements the COVID-19 Therapeutic Accelerator, an initiative launched in March to speed up the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by funding the identification, assessment, development and scale up of treatments, with a focus on those that can be deployed in lower and middle income countries.
Minderoo Foundation Co-chair Nicola Forrest AO said Australians had done a “remarkable” job flattening the curve on the home front but many countries, including Australia’s closest neighbours in South East Asia, still required urgent assistance.
“By joining forces with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and this truly incredible array of partners we will be in the best possible position to help those most vulnerable,” Mrs Forrest said.