COVID-19 Pandemic: Statement from DNDi Executive Director Dr Bernard Pécoul

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Dear friends and colleagues,

I hope you are keeping well in these unprecedented and difficult times.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, DNDi is committed to doing the utmost to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the patients in our clinical trials, of our partners, and of our team. This is our first priority. We are working to ensure continuity in our research and development (R&D) activities, to avoid disruptions in care for the neglected communities we serve, and to ensure we deliver on our commitments to them. We are also exploring how best we can contribute to the COVID-19 response.

Many of our medical partners are already, or will soon be, on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. I want to express our solidarity with our colleagues in these trying times. On a global scale that has rarely been seen, health workers around the world are putting themselves at considerable risk to treat the sick and contain this pandemic under the gravest of circumstances. We are immensely grateful to them.

So, what can we do to assist them? In the past 15 years, DNDi has acquired unique experience in conducting collaborative R&D in the public interest, from bench to bedside, delivering eight affordable, non-patented treatments for five life-threatening neglected diseases. We consider it our responsibility to offer our technical expertise to partner organizations, to open libraries of compounds to which we have access to coronavirus research, and to lend knowledge and resources wherever we can, whether in clinical trial design, innovative regulatory strategies, or approaches to intellectual property and licensing that ensure affordability and equitable access to any new treatments, diagnostics, or vaccines that are developed. We are also readying ourselves to contribute our capacities, including clinical trials sites meeting global standards that will likely be used for the next phase of research, and our scientific partnerships across low- and middle-income countries, which will be at the core of the effort to ensure the solutions being developed will be immediately available and applicable in resource-limited settings.

This crisis has given rise to a massive response from the medical and scientific community, including the public, private, and academic sectors, and has led to some of the fastest-moving efforts ever to develop new therapeutics and vaccines, with new trials and results being announced daily. It is heartening to see so many of our R&D partners joining this fight.

Now, the entire global community must ensure that the fruits of scientific progress are not restricted based on geography or wealth. This means making clear public commitments to ensure open, collaborative approaches that accelerate R&D and facilitate the sharing of research knowledge and data. Most importantly, it means agreeing on specific plans up front to ensure affordability and equitable access for all.

We commit to bringing our experience in public interest R&D to the table and working with all those confronted with this pandemic to ensure that all patients – even the poorest, most vulnerable, and neglected – can benefit from the fruits of medical innovation.

As of today, in accordance with national and international guidelines, almost all DNDi offices around the world have been closed to reduce transmission of the coronavirus and contribute to ‘flattening the epidemic curve’, and our teams, apart from essential staff running our clinical trials, are working from home. 

Please stay safe.

Best wishes,

Dr Bernard Pécoul
Executive Director