Global Health Leaders Chart the Path Forward in Pandemic Response
Dr. Anthony Fauci Calls for a Unified Approach and Continuous Commitment to Pandemic Preparedness
July 22, New York—Leading voices in global health innovation and pandemic preparedness and response shared insight into enabling the rapid innovation and collaboration required to tackle the world’s most threatening pandemics, including COVID-19, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria. These discussions took place at the Fighting Pandemics | 2020 and Beyond event, organized and hosted by TB Alliance.
The event was moderated by The Wall Street Journal Senior Writer, Betsy McKay and featured Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, M.D., Chief Scientist, World Health Organization, and Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Professor of Medicine, Columbia University and Founding Board Member, TB Alliance.
“We are honored to convene these experts who are on the front lines of the many global health emergencies the world now faces,” said Mel Spigelman, MD, President and CEO, TB Alliance. “Evidence-based leadership is an essential quality in effective pandemic response.”
In his opening remarks, Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez shared a new development in the fight against tuberculosis: the Drug Controller General of India has now approved TB Alliance’s anti-tuberculosis drug pretomanid for conditional access under the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program, making India the second country in the world to provide regulatory approval for this product. The registration was secured by Mylan, TB Alliance’s global commercialization partner.
Speakers discussed the experiences, progress and obstacles relating to global health product development, delving into concerns about efforts against COVID-19.
In a one-on-one discussion with Betsy McKay, Dr. Fauci noted, “Outbreaks of infectious disease will occur; they always occur,” and that “fundamental basic and clinical research” is critical to confront them.
Throughout the discussion, the experts noted that funding and political will are significant determinants of the pace of progress against pandemics – both new and old. Dr. Fauci pointed to the importance of consistent commitments that extend beyond individual actors, noting that “the fundamental principle of having a unified approach so that the political leadership supports the public health approach is obviously optimal.”
Dr. Swaminathan noted the role of international bodies like the World Health Organization to help enable such innovation and adoption by providing guidance for target product profiles, advising on the design of clinical trials, as well as supporting downstream activities such as regulatory harmonization and implementation activities.
Dr. Swaminathan further called for the world to avoid ignoring preexisting pandemics, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria in the face of COVID-19. Dr. Swaminathan remarked that the world has seen, “tremendous scientific collaboration in this pandemic and willingness to share data, knowledge, and experiences. If that same philosophy and that same collaboration [and financial resources] could go into developing drugs and vaccines for tuberculosis [and other neglected diseases], I think we could make a lot of progress.”
Closing the event Dr. Pablos-Mendez urged the global health community to “continue to work on the science and technology of new tools,” and to “go beyond current paradigms” to achieve progress.