A microscope image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19
National Institutes of Health

For perhaps the first time in modern history, the entire, interconnected world is focused on solving a single problem. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have transfixed the global community, as leaders and citizens seek to respond to a threat whose dimensions are neither entirely certain nor entirely known.

Members of the scientific community around the world are stepping up to find answers to the many questions the pandemic raises. Experts are working together, both inside and outside of laboratories, to provide the best information directly to the public (for example, through the Federation of American Scientists’ crowd-sourced website),  to coordinate global research priorities, and much more. Arguably, no expert community has a more important role to play in finding the solutions the world needs and communicating trustworthy information to the public. 

Shared Threat, Shared Research

With remarkable speed over these last three months, scientists have uncovered fundamental insights about the novel coronavirus and the interventions that might best address the disease it causes. In December, a group of Chinese researchers published the genetic sequence of the new virus online through the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data. That data allowed the international scientific community to start developing diagnostic

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  • MAHLET MESFIN is a Visiting Scholar at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and led the international science and technology portfolio at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2015 to 2017.
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