Organisations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières, the US National Institute of Health and the Wellcome Trust, along with leading academic journals including Nature, Science and the New England Journal of Medicine, have signed a joint declaration and hope that other bodies will come on board in the coming weeks.
The statement is intended to ensure that any information that might have value in combatting the Zika outbreak is made available to the international community, free of charge, as soon as is feasibly possible. Journal signatories provide assurance that doing so will not preclude researchers from subsequently publishing papers in their titles.
It follows a consensus statement arising from a WHO consultation in September 2015, in which leading international stakeholders from multiple sectors affirmed that timely and transparent pre-publication sharing of data and results during public health emergencies must become the global norm.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust and a signatory of the statement, said: “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.
“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.”
“It’s extremely heartening to see so many leading international organisations united in this unprecedented commitment to open science, reinforcing the decision by the WHO to declare Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”
Statement on Data Sharing in Public Health Emergencies
The arguments for sharing data, and the consequences of not doing so, have been thrown into stark relief by the Ebola and Zika outbreaks.
In the context of a public health emergency of international concern, there is an imperative on all parties to make any information available that might have value in combatting the crisis.
We are committed to working in partnership to ensure that the global response to public health emergencies is informed by the best available research evidence and data, as such:
- Journal signatories will make all content concerning the Zika virus free to access. Any data or preprint deposited for unrestricted dissemination ahead of submission of any paper will not pre-empt its publication in these journals.
- Funder signatories will require researchers undertaking work relevant to public health emergencies to set in place mechanisms to share quality-assured interim and final data as rapidly and widely as possible, including with public health and research communities and the World Health Organisation.
We urge other organisations to make the same commitments.
This commitment is in line with the consensus statement agreed at a WHO expert consultation on data sharing last year whereby researchers are expected to share data at the earliest opportunity, once they are adequately controlled for release and subject to any safeguards required to protect research participants and patients.
Signatories to the Statement
- Academy of Medical Sciences, UK
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- The British Medical Journal (BMJ)
- Bulletin of the World Health Organization
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Chinese Academy of Sciences
- Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
- The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India
- The Department for International Development (DFID)
- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
- The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Fondation Mérieux
- Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz)
- The Institut Pasteur
- Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED)
- The JAMA Network
- The Lancet
- Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
- National Academy of Medicine
- National Institutes of Health, USA
- National Science Foundation, USA
- The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)
- Science Journals
- South African Medical Research Council
- Springer Nature
- UK Medical Research Council
- Wellcome Trust
- ZonMw – The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development
Notes to Editors
For further information contact:
Senior Media Officer
Tel: (+44) 207 611 8898
Mob: (+44) 7860 948 890