Can we tackle the Zika virus with rapid, open research?

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One of the major issues with the Zika virus is that so little is known about it. That means that a lot of research has to be done very quickly.

The Zika virus is at the heart of a global health emergency. It became a global health emergency after outbreaks began in 2015, and has possible links to birth defects. When the virus was first discovered in the late forties, human infections had been observed as early as 1952 according to Wikipedia.

On February 10, the open journal PLoS released a statement on data sharing in public emergencies. Then, an article in the research journal F1000, Open drug discovery for the Zika virus, discussed the status of Zika along with the need to conduct research openly. The statement from PLoS lists more than 30 important organizations who have aligned around the open dissemination of data as the virus is studied. And the World Health Organization has implemented special provisions that submissions to the WHO Bulletin now be made available under a Creative Commons license.

Rapid publication, unrestricted reuse, and emphasizing dissemination of research are strategic steps that the open science community has been pushing for in all scientific research. Seeing a start with health emergencies that require our immediate attention is encouraging.

Marcus D. Hanwell
Marcus D. Hanwell | Marcus leads the Open Chemistry project, developing open source tools for chemistry, bioinformatics, and materials science research.


Great artice and great research Marcus. This is another great example of the power of open.

Thanks Don, I think neglected diseases are an area that can blaze a trail for open approaches in research with significant impacts that can be communicated to the wider community.

In reply to by Don Watkins

Great points made here in favor of opening up information for rapid reaction in emergencies.

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