Feb. 7, 2020

National Academies Provide Rapid Response to White House on Coronavirus Data Needs

WASHINGTON — The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) this week requested that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine rapidly examine the information and data needed to help determine the origins of the novel coronavirus that is causing a global outbreak of respiratory illness.

In response, the National Academies consulted leading experts in the fields of virology, infectious disease genomics, genome sciences, epidemiology, microbiology, immunology, coronaviruses, emerging infections, biosecurity, and global health.  Based on information provided by these experts, the presidents of the NAS, NAE, and NAM sent a letter to the OSTP director stating that additional genomic sequence data from geographically and temporally diverse viral samples are needed to inform the research already underway to determine the origin and evolution of the virus. 

The letter also notes that international scientific collaboration, which already is occurring, is more important than ever in addressing these research questions and overcoming global challenges such as the current outbreak.  A copy of the presidents’ letter was delivered to the secretary of health and human services as well.