2020 was a challenging year for health and technology. This great pandemic we are experiencing on a global level has been expected to happen long ago by health authorities. Today, most of the world is starting to be vaccinated just one year after the project started – an impressive achievement. Collaboration has been the key to attain this feat. The WHO created a global platform for sharing information on research, testing, and new vaccine-related discoveries. The idea is to have a base to gather data, published or not, and protocols that make it possible to expand knowledge about the new coronavirus and other diseases.
For months, since the pandemic began, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been working to attract governments, teaching and research institutions, foundations, and the private sector to this initiative. The organization, which brings together 194 member countries and aims to improve health conditions worldwide, may have been one of the first to realize the importance of joint and collaborative work to control the pandemic.
The development and approval of more than one vaccine less than a year after the covid-19 virus was isolated and sequenced were impressive achievements for world science. And the main reason for this surprising result was collaboration. The union around a single objective and the exchange of information, also unprecedented among thousands of scientists, researchers, professionals in the medical field, businessmen, and government officials, made it possible to carry out a process that usually takes years, now reduced to months.
Science, in its most diverse processes, has a series of steps and procedures to be followed. In general, the average time for the development of a new drug or treatment is ten years. Often, after a few years of research and testing, it may prove ineffective.
The surprising speed in the development of the covid-19 vaccine has benefited, in addition to billions in investment, from the fact that we live in a more interconnected world than ever. With digitalization, the crossing of geographical or even political boundaries bringing people together or sending information anywhere in the world is a matter of seconds. It has never been easier to share knowledge, scientific or otherwise, and data to overcome global and complex challenges.
The development of digital culture and the possibility it brings to make research go beyond the walls of laboratories is the basis of the so-called Open Science.
The concept, which originated in the scientific community and has been gaining more and more followers, proposes to make the scientific process more transparent and inclusive through unrestricted access to data, methods, and evidence.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Unesco placed the proposal at a public hearing last year which is expected to be approved by the 193 member countries at its assembly later this year. For the organization, Open Science is a “true game-changer”: by making information widely available, it allows more people to benefit from scientific and technological innovation.
Collaboration and data sharing can also be the key to the new global challenge that is emerging: the mutations of the new coronavirus. The identification of new variations in SARS-CoV-2 and the effectiveness of vaccines in transmitting the virus need to be evaluated in the most different populations to develop the next generation of vaccines.