A total of 18 nations, including the G7 countries, such as Japan, the U.S., the U.K.; the European Union (EU); and India, have initiated cooperation in COVID-19 research. Articles on antibody tests and treatment methods will be integrated in one database managed by an American research institute. The database will be utilized by the participating countries.
Allen Institute for AI (AI2) and other institutions have launched CORD-19, a database of articles on the new coronavirus, to centrally manage articles and research data from the participating countries.
As of mid-March 2020, there were 240,000 academic articles in the database. In the two months since the launch of the collaborative research framework, the number of articles grew 2.5 times to total 600,000. To make it easy to search the database, the articles were classified by theme using artificial intelligence (AI).
There are no standard methodologies for coronavirus testing, treatment, and clinical trials. Research could be performed more efficiently if countries using different methodologies shared information.
Through this framework, Japan called for collaborative research using Fugaku, its next-generation supercomputer. The research will examine the mechanisms of how drugs act on the virus at the molecular level. Harnessing data from other countries, the research project will search for effective treatments.
The call to share information was initiated by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Initially, the following 10 countries joined: the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Brazil.
Later, South Korea, Singapore, France, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Switzerland, and the EU joined to bring the total number of countries and regions to 18. These countries and regions are primarily in Europe and Asia and share the common philosophy of valuing freedom based on democracy and the rule of law. More countries may join in the future.
China and Russia are not participating in the research framework. The conflict between the U.S. and China over the handling of the outbreak is a factor behind this.
The U.S. has criticized China for not releasing accurate information in the early stages of the outbreak, which led to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. Suspicion remains that the actual number of cases and deaths in China may be greater than the figures released by the Chinese government.
According to Japanese government insiders, there is no cooperation between the research framework and the World Health Organization (WHO) because the U.S. has criticized the WHO as being China-centric.
There are concerns about China’s not participating in the framework. China was the first location of a massive coronavirus outbreak, and many articles on treatment and testing have been written by that nation’s scientists. China was able to suppress the outbreak with powerful measures, such as the lockdown of Wuhan, and managed to resume economic activities.
Some in the Japanese government claim that China’s knowledge and experience should be applied to develop future measures against the coronavirus. They point to the possibility of China and Russia, neither of whom is participating in the framework, becoming the source of a “second wave” of infection. (Abridged)