Manica Balasegaram: 2020 a Year in Review

18 Dec 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, we can say it has been a year of considerable challenges. COVID-19 has resulted in tragic loss, suffering and disruption – touching all corners of the world. It is in light of this that I wish to thank our partners, supporters and colleagues for their unwavering commitment. Despite the immense challenges, we have come together to achieve remarkable progress.

Although COVID-19 slowed some of our research and development activities, we realized several important milestones, including the completion of one of the largest global observational studies on the care of babies with sepsis. This study, which involved newborns in 19 sites across 11 countries, will provide evidence to fill knowledge gaps, help transform treatment and save lives. The results of the study will inform an empiric treatment trial that will evaluate three antibiotic combinations to treat the bloodstream infection in newborns.

In April, we announced our first partnership as part of our new serious bacterial infections programme. We are very pleased to be collaborating with Venatorx Pharmaceuticals to accelerate the development of cefepime-taniborbactam, a critically needed treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections in adults and children. We are working together to ensure this treatment is made available to everyone who needs it, wherever they live.

Even though our phase 3 trial of zoliflodacin, a novel antibiotic to treat gonorrhoea, was temporarily put on hold due to COVID-19 early in the year, the good news is that recruitment was able to start again in the US and the first patient was enrolled in The Netherlands. Trials in Thailand and South Africa are to begin early next year.

This year has also seen us transition to online conferences and webinars. We have continued to build our REVIVE platform and are delighted that our webinars are reaching people from over 60 countries.

If 2020 has taught us one important lesson, it is that pandemic preparedness requires a global coordinated effort, and no country or sector can do it alone. As governments have woken up to the importance of pandemic preparedness, this has extended into preparing for and addressing challenges such as drug-resistance. Recognizing the critical role antibiotics play in modern medicine and pandemic response, the German government announced additional funding of EUR 5 million for GARDP. This year also marked Japan’s first contribution to GARDP of 200 million yen (EUR 1.6 million) as part of a broader 1 billion yen pledge.

At GARDP we are ready to ramp up efforts with partners from the public and private sectors to ensure that antibiotic resistance does not paralyze the world in the same way that COVID-19 has done this year. The GARDP team looks forward to our continued collaborations throughout 2021.

Best wishes,
Manica Balasegaram
GARDP Executive Director

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