The current COVID-19 crisis puts the world to the test, and research and innovation will be key in tackling this enormous challenge. The complexity that COVID-19 imposes will require an out-of-the-box approach, which transcends scientific disciplines, actors, and regions. COST manages more than 250 COST Actions, of which many are dealing directly or indirectly with aspects linked to this crisis.
The bottom-up and interdisciplinary nature of COST Actions constitutes a fertile breeding ground for the development of these much-needed ideas and solutions. Moreover, a COST Action has on average 30+ countries on board, which guarantees that collaboration is truly cross-border and involves perspectives from a wide range of countries from all over Europe.
COST Action initiatives
One of our COST Actions, New diagnostic and therapeutic tools against multidrug resistant tumours has created a "Task Force" of researchers contributing to Covid-19 research. The main objective of this task force is to synthesize new drugs or identify FDA approved drugs which could be repurposed as antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2 and contribute to diagnosis or prognosis of COVID-19. The coordinators of this task force identified the need to expand their network by collaborating with scientists with complementary expertise. To this end, they contacted Chairs from other COST Actions with added expertise on medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, cellular biology, molecular biology, genetics, systems medicine, medicine, bioinformatics, and virology. Consequently, an informal inter-COST Actions network was initiated.
Broad focus of research
COST Actions do not only focus on medical treatments and vaccines, but also deal with a wide range of disciplines focusing on economic and societal fall-out of a crisis, such as health care in general and on societal questions touched upon by COVID-19. Several examples can be found in the
COST Actions against COVID-19
Since March 2020, multiple COST Actions have approached the COST programme wanting to collaborate with other Actions on COVID-19 research. In response to these requests and to make the networking process smoother, COST has gathered together in a booklet entitled 'COST Actions against COVID-19, An interdisciplinary network', details of all of the Actions wishing to connect and collaborate.
As the full consequences of the current pandemic are yet unknown and the threat of a future pandemic is always present, this network offers considerable potential in mobilising experts and tackling challenges as they arise.