Professor Emily Chan, CEO of GX and Assistant Dean and Head of Division of Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Medicine, was invited by the WHO and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) to participate at an expert meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from 11-12 February 2020 to set the global research agenda for the 2019 Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Professor Chan co-chaired two sub-sessions on the state of the art and global research agenda-setting for social sciences in outbreak response, one of the nine thematic areas of the forum.
The meeting was a forum for the 400+ scientists and researchers to discuss the research roadmap. The overall objectives of the meeting were (1) enabling the joint identification of the main knowledge gaps and research priorities; (2) fostering an acceleration of the generation of scientific information; and (3) promoting the development and generation of priority medical countermeasures to control the COVID-19 emergency, through an effective collaborative approach.
Three research priorities were identified regarding the role of social sciences in outbreak response, relating to (1) public health, (2) clinical/health systems and (3) media communication. Specific research questions include:
- What are relevant, feasible, effective approaches to promote acceptance, uptake, and adherence to public health measures for COVID-19 prevention and control, and how can secondary impacts be rapidly identified and mitigated – e.g. use of surgical masks, school closures, access to services, sexual and reproductive health needs?
- What are the relevant, acceptable and feasible approaches for supporting the physical health and psychosocial needs of those providing care for COVID-19 patients?
- What are the most effective ways to address the underlying drivers of fear, anxieties, rumours, stigma regarding COVID-19, and how to improve public knowledge, awareness, and trust during the response?