The London-based Wellcome Trust has announced a commitment by leading global health funders, NGOs, research organizations, and scientific journals to share data about the Zika outbreak and future public health crises as quickly and openly as possible.
In addition to the Wellcome Trust, signatories to the joint declaration include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the publications The Lancet, Nature, and the New England Journal of Medicine. The statement is intended to ensure that any information which might support efforts to address the Zika outbreak is made available, free of charge, as soon as is feasibly possible and follows the release of a consensus statement arising from a World Health Organization consultation last September in which multi-sector stakeholders affirmed that the timely and transparent pre-publication sharing of data and results during a public health emergency must become the global norm.
Funder signatories to the statement will require researchers to create mechanisms to share quality-assured interim and final data with public health and research communities as well as WHO, while journal signatories will provide assurance that doing so will not preclude researchers from subsequently publishing papers in their titles.
"Research is an essential part of the response to any global health emergency. This is particularly true for Zika, where so much is still unknown about the virus, how it is spread, and the possible link with microcephaly," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust. "It’s critical that as results become available they are shared rapidly in a way that is equitable, ethical, and transparent. This will ensure that the knowledge gained is turned quickly into health interventions that can have an impact on the epidemic."
For a complete list of signatories, see the Wellcome Trust website.