Our perspective is rooted in the lessons learned from the HIV research response that began in the 1980s and 1990s and—along with our advocacy around leading HIV coinfections hepatitis C virus (HCV) and tuberculosis (TB)—continues today. We know from experience that informing and engaging health advocates from vulnerable and disproportionately affected communities is an essential part of a coordinated public health and research response to a novel infectious disease.
Accelerating access to reliable options for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment is critical. Rigorous scientific protocols are essential, even and especially in a pandemic. While objecting to unethical or unscientific research, we are also part of working to find solutions to achieve well-designed research including randomized controlled trials, while advocating to overcome structural, policy, and pricing and other access barriers.
The emergence of a new pandemic can lead to media hype, misinformation, and the promotion of interventions that lack supportive scientific evidence. This puts patients at risk and could lead to increased transmission due to loss of faith in non-pharmaceutical interventions that we know are effective in slowing COVID-19 transmission. Interpreting and understanding rapidly evolving scientific research can be challenging for the media and public. This challenge is exacerbated in the current era of social media and the broader availability or “preprint” research papers that have not yet undergone review by scientific peers. Even among peer-reviewed research, quality of data and the relationship between the data and the authors’ conclusions (both in the publication and in media engagement) is widely variable.
We aim to provide here independent analysis and information resources with a particular focus on the research pipelines for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease. Our main COVID-19 Pipeline page contains statements and resources on key topics. Our Myth Busters page debunks common and dangerous myths. For the latest public comments and publications on COVID-19 from TAG and partners, check out our Newsfeed, and for more on COVID-19 from external sources, please visit our Resources page.
Guiding Principles for Our Work Are:
- High-quality, ethical, rigorous, well-designed, well-controlled clinical trials are essential for strengthening our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease.
- People at risk for or living with COVID-19 disease have a right to receive diagnosis, prevention, and treatment based on strong basic research and validated through high-quality, ethical, rigorous, well-designed, well-controlled clinical trials.
- Communities disproportionately at risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease– as well as experienced community health and research advocates– must be involved in the design, execution, and analysis of clinical trials during this pandemic, and in plans for rolling out benefits from scientific advances.
- People at higher risk of severe disease must be included in clinical trials of interventions for COVID-19 with the highest quality informed consent. Risk factors include co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, kidney or liver disease, as well as age. This means that many people co-infected with HIV, HCV, and TB, among other coinfections, may be at increased risk for worse outcomes resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection and must be involved in clinical research.
- Knowledge and products generating from research, especially when publicly funded, must be widely available, equitably accessible, and affordable.
For any questions regarding our COVID-19 materials, please contact email@example.com.
These resources were made possible by generous support from David Gold, Dr. Michael Giordano, and the Columbia University School of Social Work. Additional donations are welcome and will help us keep these resources updated.