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International collaborations account for almost one-quarter of all publications and produce notable citations and influence. But the coronavirus pandemic is likely to choke off much of this momentum: researchers can’t meet face-to-face when would-be travellers are cautioned against flying or are banned from certain destinations. The impact of COVID-19 threatens to derail decades of shared scientific progress across many parts of the world, particularly in the United States and western Europe, where international partnerships had been growing swiftly.