The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has undeniably emerged as the largest global health threat to humanity this century. The rapidity, rate of global spread and observed mortality raises public health, socio-economic and scientific challenges at an unprecedented scale, well beyond those of the previous coronavirus outbreaks [SARS in 2003 and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2012]. In 2020, with only limited therapy options against COVID-19, the pandemic is ongoing, with more cases and deaths every day.
The wide spectrum of clinical symptoms, disease severity in high risk individuals, transmission efficiency and high mortality, raises immediate challenges for research as well as patient care. This has made it imperative for the scientific community to immediately collaborate under public-private partnerships to identify efficacious and safe drugs. More than ever before, collaborative basic and applied research are pivotal to creating a foundation for rapid responses to the ongoing crisis, until vaccines counter the pandemic through the immunization of the global population, and for long-term preparedness, in case of unexpected future outbreaks.