Wellcome Trust: draft statement on data sharing in public health emergencies

Following discussions with several funder and journal colleagues, we believe that it would be extremely powerful and timely to publish a short joint statement emphasising our commitment to ensure that results and data relevant to the current Zika crisis and future public health emergencies should be made as available as rapidly and openly as possible.

The text of our statement follows below. Given the time critical nature of this, and deadlines for several of our journal colleagues, we propose to finalise and publish this statement by 22:00 GMT (17:00 EST) tomorrow – Wednesday.

We would like as many funders and journals to join us possible. I would be very grateful if you could let Katherine Littler (K.Littler@wellcome.ac.uk) know by 15:00 GMT on Wednesday if your organisation would be willing to sign.

Draft statement

The case for sharing data, and the consequences of not doing so, have been bought into stark relief by the Ebola and Zika outbreaks.

In the context of a public health emergency of international concern, there is an imperative on all parties to make any information available that might have value in combatting the crisis.

As research funders and journals, we are committed to working in partnership to ensure that the global response to public health emergencies is informed by the best available research evidence and data, as such:

  • journal signatories will make all content concerning the Zika virus free to access. Any data or preprint deposited for unrestricted dissemination ahead of submission of any paper will not pre-empt its publication in these journals.
  • funder signatories will require researchers undertaking work relevant to public health emergencies to set in place mechanisms to share quality-assured interim and final data as rapidly and widely as possible, including with public health and research communities and the World Health Organisation.

We urge other journals and research funders to make the same commitments.

This commitment is in line with the consensus statement agreed at a WHO expert consultation on data sharing last year whereby researchers are expected to share data at the earliest opportunity, once they are adequately controlled for release and subject to any safeguards required to protect research participants and patients.

Very best wishes,

Jeremy

Dr Jeremy Farrar
Director, Wellcome Trust