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Policy Paper: Research and Development Priorities for COVID-19 in Africa

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On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new type of Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19 respiratory disease, a global pandemic. The outbreak has devastated parts of Asia, Europe, and the United States of America with the world reporting more that one million deaths by 26 September 2020. Emerging data from Africa shows remarkably low numbers of reported COVID-19 deaths despite high levels of disease transmission with the projected trend of the pandemic remaining unknown. However, the long term impacts of the pandemic on health and development are likely to be major not just to African countries but to the world. Research and development investments, therefore need to be focused, timely, and unique to various geographies.

Improving our response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Africa requires regularly updated information, constant innovation, and considerable support towards research and development (R&D) for priorities that respond to the African realities. Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation, and dissemination of valuable knowledge is one of the core functions of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), African Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC), and WHO-AFRO. We need answers to a list of critical research questions that respond to the current realities on the African continent to guide the COVID-19 outbreak control efforts.