The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Science family of journals are applying formidable resources to keep the scientific community and the public well informed on the coronavirus pandemic. Science, published by AAAS, has shared research findings and made data swiftly available over recent weeks to spur scientific advances, outline public health opportunities to slow the spread of COVID-19, and help protect the wellbeing of people across the globe.
The journal has accelerated its publishing practices governing the release of research papers on coronavirus and urged scientists to post their submitted studies on preprint sites, all the while preserving the peer-review process to ensure the validity of the research published in the journals. In addition, Science and AAAS are working to ensure infectious disease researchers retain access to safe laboratories to facilitate their COVID-19 research and to keep the research community, policymakers and the public updated through quick-turnaround teleconferences, Facebook Live events and other outreach efforts based on the latest research and news published in Science.
Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of Science, has been seeing to it that Science has coronavirus research papers reviewed as quickly as possible, promptly shares first release articles and makes them free to all. In addition, the News from Science team has been sharing regular updates on the latest research and reports from around the world. In a March 17 editorial, ‘Time to Pull Together,’ Thorp called on institutions to limit their research work to the virus as well as clinical care and public health communications and urged fellow scientists to help virus researchers to ease challenges they are encountering such as finding childcare.
The journal Science Translational Medicine has published an editorial authored by experts on epidemiology, mathematics and two National Institutes of Health officials who called for prioritising research on COVID-19 before focusing on the ‘confirmed cases and their geospatial spread.’ COVID-19 was well within AAAS’ radar even before Nicole Maylett, director of the Office of Meetings and Special Events, had finalised preparations for the 2020 Annual Meeting. By late January, Maylett and her team were discussing options for adding a scientific session focused on the coronavirus to the Feb. 13-16 gathering in Seattle, Wash.
The effort led to the ‘Coronavirus: Contextualising Modern Responses to Pandemics’ session being added to the AAAS Annual Meeting’s roster, as well as a related press briefing from genomic epidemiologist Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. During the symposium, researchers laid out the potential severity of the disease. Media and social media outreach by AAAS has only climbed in recent weeks through the efforts of its staff in keeping journalists and the public updated on scientific information during the pandemic.
The Science Press Package (SciPak) team, which drafts summaries of the Science journals’ weekly offerings and conducts regular outreach to journalists, has added the regular dispatch of Science research papers and commentaries on coronavirus. So far, research content has examined how the structure of the coronavirus informs vaccine development, how it binds to human cells, and how the public health system and social distancing can mitigate the spread of COVID-19, among other topics.