The COVID-19 pandemic represents a health crisis unprecedented in its scale and impact on our lives. Caused by an emergent coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, this disease has rallied researchers both across the world and here at Inserm. Our objectives are multiple: understand the disease, improve its treatment, develop vaccines rapidly and anticipate future developments of the pandemic in order to protect people.
Over 660,000 confirmed deaths and around 17 million people infected worldwide! Such is the tragic human toll of the COVID-19 pandemic since SARS-CoV-2 appeared in China at the end of last year. And France has not been spared – far from it. According to Public Health France, by June 2020 over 166,000 people had contracted the disease and almost 30,000 had died from it since the epidemic began. In this context, “Inserm’s mission has never been so important,” states Éric D’Ortenzio, physician-epidemiologist at Inserm and Scientific Coordinator of the REACTing Consortium – a key player in fighting the pandemic. In the face of the pandemic, Inserm researchers have been unanimous in their response. “There has been huge mobilisation for research against COVID-19,” adds the epidemiologist. Inserm has contributed to over 450 scientific publications on a disease which only a few months ago was unknown. That being said, numerous grey areas need to be elucidated in order to combat the virus effectively and bring an end to the pandemic. In this issue of our magazine, we give you an overview of the research conducted in France on SARS-CoV-2 and its disease, COVID-19.