With COVID-19 overwhelming some of the world’s most advanced health systems in Europe and the US, what can we expect as COVID-19 takes hold in those parts of the world with fewer resources?

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 have a responsibility to utilize our experience and mobilize our networks to contribute to the response to COVID-19.

Our teams are working to:

  • Coordinate clinical trials by leveraging our assets, expertise, and network of partners to design and conduct urgently needed clinical research
  • Facilitate and accelerate research through a coalition of partners to ensure that COVID-19 clinical research ensures the participation – and meets the specific needs – of resource-limited settings
  • Advocate for accountability from governments, industry, and the research community to ensure that COVID-19 R&D is driven by the public interest and that new health tools reach everyone who needs them

‘How best to prevent and treat COVID-19 in resource-limited settings? We must accelerate research, share knowledge and data, and prioritize access to affordable tools.’

Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director, DNDi 

Coordinating clinical trials

DNDi is actively contributing our R&D capacities and galvanizing our scientific partnerships to find treatments that work in resource-limited settings.

The ANTICOV trial

Can we repurpose existing drugs to protect patients and safeguard fragile health systems?

With partners, we’re on the cusp of launching ANTICOV, a large clinical trial in at least 10 African countries studying early treatment for people with mild COVID-19 symptoms. Our aim is to find out whether treatments approved for other diseases could also be effective in halting the progression of COVID-19 and prevent the need for intensive care in hospitals. More information will be available soon.

Bolstering drug discovery efforts

In addition to our focus on clinical trials, DNDi is using our network for open and collaborative drug discovery to put drug candidates and advanced drug leads into the hands of researchers testing for new treatments against COVID-19. Current efforts include ensuring COVID-19 researchers’ access to the Pandemic Response Box, opening access to the compound library of our Lead Optimization Latin America (LOLA) project, and linking student researchers in our Open Synthesis Network to COVID-19 drug discovery efforts.

Supporting our research partners

In addition, DNDi stands ready 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.

‘Africa’s COVID-19 research must be tailored to its realities – by its own scientists. Scientists here can set the priorities that make the most sense for our people.’

Dr Monique Wasunna, Director DNDi Africa

Facilitating and accelerating research in resource-limited settings

We are working to make sure that communities living in the poorest regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East are not left behind in the global race for new treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics.

Hundreds of clinical trials are under way today for COVID-19, but the vast majority are taking place in wealthy countries. Together with over 100 scientists, physicians, funders, and policy makers from over 30 countries, DNDi initiated the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition in April 2020 to fast-track research on prevention, diagnosis, and case management specifically in resource-limited settings.

Coalition members are working to ensure that:

  • Research gets started quickly
  • Clinical sites have the materials they need
  • Key data are standardized
  • Research results can be analysed and shared rapidly to make evidence-based decisions
  • New tools are affordable and accessible where they are needed most

Read the call from more than 70 scientists, physicians, and funders in a Comment published by The Lancet.

‘We welcome the launch of this coalition, which takes advantage of existing multinational and multidisciplinary expertise in running clinical trials in resource-poor settings, and will help the World Health Organization in its coordinating role in the global response to COVID-19.’

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization

Advocating for accountability

True solidarity in the response to COVID-19 demands accountability to vulnerable communities worldwide.

DNDi has long advocated for public responsibility and public policies required to meet the medical needs of the most neglected patients. To ensure unprecedented public and philanthropic funding for COVID-19 research results in affordable health tools that reach everyone who needs them, we’re calling on governments, donors, industry, and the research community to take six concrete steps:

  1. Increase funding and mobilize scientific collaboration for research that addresses the needs of low-resource settings
  2. Include researchers, public health experts, civil society, and political leaders from low- and middle-income countries in decision making and efforts to identify the tools and interventions that are most appropriate and effective for use in different settings
  3. Commit to open sharing of research knowledge and data to improve research efficiency and accelerate scientific progress
  4. Make health tools public goods, free of intellectual property restrictions, as a prerequisite for taxpayer and philanthropic funding to remove barriers to research and affordable production of new tools
  5. Ensure access from the outset in funding agreements and research planning to ensure sufficient production, equitable allocation, and affordable pricing
  6. Require full transparency on R&D funding to secure public trust and support and to demonstrate that both governments and funding recipients are accountable for R&D investments and how they are used

Learn more from DNDi Executive Director Dr Bernard Pécoul about what it will take to transform good intentions into tangible health tools for COVID‑19.