A dozen countries, including India and the US, on Friday asked publishers to make all coronavirus-related research and data immediately available to the public to contain and mitigate the rapidly evolving pandemic.

The virus, which first surfaced in China in December, has now killed more than 5,000 people globally.

"To assist efforts to contain and mitigate the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, basic science research and innovation will be vital to addressing this global crisis. Given the urgency of the situation, it is particularly important that scientists and the public can access research outcomes as soon as possible,” science officials from these countries said in an open letter to the Members of the Scholarly Publishing Community.

A copy of the joint open letter was issued by the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Member of President Donald Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr Kelvin Droegemeier on behalf of the government science leaders including science ministers and chief science advisors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

"We, as national leaders on science policy, applaud the efforts of researchers to understand and prevent the infection and spread of COVID-19. We also greatly appreciate the funders and publishers who play the important role of supporting, reviewing, and communicating research outcomes and making publications and data available to the global community for scientific research and public awareness,” they wrote in the call-to-action.

These leaders requested that existing and new articles be made available in machine-readable format to allow full text and data mining with rights accorded for research re-use and secondary analysis. This will allow researchers to apply artificial intelligence to answer critical questions and identify trends and relevant information in their efforts to characterize this novel virus and address the global health crisis, they said.

They said that this information should be in both human and machine-readable format to allow for full text and data mining using artificial intelligence with rights accorded for research re-use and secondary analysis. “We further respectfully request this arrangement apply to articles published to date as well as future articles for the duration of this crisis,” they said. PTI LKJ

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