SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a subgroup of coronaviruses rampant in bats for centuries. It has caused the COVID-19
pandemic. Most patients recover, but a minority of severe cases experience acute respiratory distress or an inflammatory storm
devastating many organs that can lead to patient death. The spread of SARS-CoV-2 has been facilitated by the increasing
intensity of air travel, urban congestion and human contact during the last half century. Until therapies and vaccines are available,
tests for virus and exposure, confinement measures and physical distancing have helped curb the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic calls for safeguards and remediation measures through a systemic response. A myriad of selforganizing initiatives by scientists and citizens is developing an advanced collective intelligence response to the coronavirus
crisis. Their integration forms Olympiads of Solidarity and Health. Their ability to optimize our response to COVID-19 could
serve as a model to trigger a global metamorphosis of our societies with far-reaching consequences for attacking fundamental
challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.
For COVID-19 and these other challenges, there is no alternative but action. Meeting in Paris in 2003, we set out to
"rethink research to understand life and improve health." We have now formed an international coalition of academia and
industry ecosystems taking a systems medicine approach to understanding COVID-19 by thoroughly characterizing viruses,
patients and populations during the pandemic, using openly shared tools. All results will be publicly available with no initial
claims for intellectual property rights. This World Alliance for Health and Wellbeing will catalyze the creation of medical and
health products such as diagnostic tests, drugs and vaccines that become common goods accessible to all, while seeking further
alliances with civil society to bridge with socio-ecological and technological approaches that characterise urban systems, for a
collective response to future health emergencies.
KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-12-10
Acknowledgements: CA wrote the initial draft of the paper; all authors provided input into and approved the final version. We thank Bertrand De Meulder for help in formatting the references, colleagues and citizens for useful comments on the manuscript.