Harnessing the strength of collaboration for research: lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic

Researcher perspectives shared, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries

In the first two and a half years of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 80% of clinical research related to COVID-19 was conducted in high-income countries.

Social science was a rich field for collaboration during the pandemic and there is much greater potential to integrate social science into other types of research, including clinical studies.

Researchers in low-resource settings often struggled to obtain adequate – or even any – COVID-19 research funding.

These were only a few among the many points shared and discussed at an official side event hosted by the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition at the Africa CDC’s Second International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2023) in Kigali, Rwanda.

Entitled “Harnessing the strength of collaboration: Lessons Learnt from the COVID-19 Pandemic – A focus on low- and middle-income countries”, the session saw researchers sharing challenges and solutions in a series of talks that ranged from how to re-think research partnerships between institutions in the global South and North to planning for pandemic preparedness that would see strengthened disease surveillance through biobanking and sequencing capacity across the continent.

The event, held at the Kigali Conference Centre on 12 Dec. 2022 and moderated by Dr Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft (Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Switzerland), included the following talks by Coalition members:

  • Driving collaborative research during global pandemics: the major challenges and proposed solutions for LMICs – Dr Amina Haouala (COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition)
  • Establishing interregional and global partnerships, an ethical perspective on the good, the bad and the ugly – Prof. Caesar Atuire (University of Oxford, UK/University of Ghana)
  • Streamlining disease surveillance across Africa by building biobanking and sequencing capacity – the role of partnerships – Dr Wilber Sabiiti (University of St Andrews, UK)
  • The importance of context-specific prevention and control – an assessment of strategies like lockdown on communities, and initial evidence from a global systematic review on impact of lockdown on early pregnancy – Dr Lauren Hookham (MUJHU Research Collaboration, Uganda/St. George’s University, UK)
  • Interdisciplinary methods – bringing together epidemiology and social science approaches in pandemic research – Dr Luisa Enria (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK)
  • Priorities for Africa: Focus areas as we pivot to pandemic preparedness – Dr Brenda Okware (COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition)

The presentations slides are available here. 

Watch the recording