CARE – Committed to the COVID-19 cause
In May 2023, the World Health Organisation announced that the COVID-19 pandemic “is now an established and ongoing health issue which no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)”, so should we still CARE?
When CARE was initiated, the world was reacting to a rising pandemic which claimed many lives globally, disrupted economies, upset personal lives and so on, due to the pervasive SARS-CoV-2 virus. Over the course of the life of the CARE consortium, we have seen many variants which have challenged our approaches and had varying effects on the severity of the disease, and we have also seen the pandemic peak and thankfully decline through the introduction of vaccines and increasing immunity in the global population.
The decline has now reached a point where the WHO deems COVID-19 to be an “established and ongoing health issue” rather than a public health emergency of international concern. COVID-19 is now expected to manifest as mini-waves rather than seasonal surges, and furthermore, it has left a legacy in the form of long COVID which will need to be managed for the many people affected. Availability of more potent antivirals may assist in preventing or mitigating the long term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
In parallel with this reality, we are starting to see organisations who quickly mobilised resources to help address the COVID-19 challenge in 2020, reprioritise core business efforts. So – does CARE still have something to offer? The key point is that the WHO deems the current position to be an “established and ongoing health issue”. There are also certain populations (such as immunocompromised individuals) for whom there is still an unmet need for COVID-19 prophylaxis and treatment. We also know that the virus continues to mutate, which may alter effectiveness of current approved treatments.
The emergency may be over, but we still need to be prepared. That is why CARE continues to stay true to its commitment to pandemic preparedness and its expert academic and industry teams continue to move forward in their endeavours, generating and applying new knowledge while responding to the everchanging context.
In the remaining two years of the CARE consortium, we anticipate bringing one or more variant agnostic medicines to the clinic, optimise other potential broad spectrum novel treatments that can be used in future pandemics, as well as continuing to share our findings as we progress.
So, CARE does care, and continues to strive to make a meaningful contribution to the world’s defences against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as pandemics of the future.