The WHO R&D Blueprint: 2018 review of emerging infectious diseases requiring urgent research and development efforts

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The Research and Development (R&D) Blueprint is a World Health Organization initiative to reduce the time between the declaration of a public health emergency and the availability of effective diagnostic tests, vaccines, and treatments that can save lives and avert a public health crisis. The scope of the Blueprint extends to severe emerging diseases for which there are insufficient or no presently existing medical countermeasures or pipelines to produce them. In February 2018, WHO held an informal expert consultation to review and update the list of priority diseases, employing a prioritization methodology which uses the Delphi technique, questionnaires, multi-criteria decision analysis, and expert review to identify relevant diseases. The committee determined that, given their potential to cause a public health emergency and the absence of efficacious drugs and/or vaccines, there is an urgent need for accelerated R&D for (in no order of priority) Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus and Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah and henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever and Zika virus disease. The experts also included “Disease X,” representing the awareness that a previously unknown pathogen could cause a major public health emergency. This report describes the methods and results of the 2018 prioritization review.HighlightsEmerging infectious diseases pose an important threat for humans.Many of these diseases do not have medical countermeasures.WHO and partners are tackling this issue to advance product R&D for a set of emerging priority diseases.A methodology has been developed and externally reviewed in 2016 to identify a priority list of diseases in need of R&D.This methodology was applied in 2017 and 2018 to review the WHO R&D Blueprint priority list of diseases.

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