The pandemic caused by the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus has represented an unprecedented challenge for the most diverse fields of science and medicine. Never before has so much or so quickly been investigated an unknown virus until a year and a half ago. Never before have we been so aware of the importance of scientific research for humanity. This is one of the great lessons that Covid-19 leaves behind.
“The investigation has taken different forms, it has entered the homes of citizens and we have identified what we are talking about when we talk about science“, said Raquel Yotti, general secretary for Research of the Ministry of Science and speaker of the ‘II Symposium of the Health Observatory: The Lessons of Covid-19’ organized by EL ESPAÑOL and Invertia and which began this Monday.
Yotti has claimed the need for do an analysis of both successes and failures committed throughout the pandemic. “All learning processes, both individual and collective, arise from the analysis of the causes. Observing means looking carefully, analyzing in a very rigorous way,” said the Secretary General for Research. “Analysis by analysis does not lead us anywhere if it is not accompanied by an action plan for recovery. And last year we talked about recovery, but we are already in the transformation,” he added.
Among the successes, the former director of the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) has given an example of the vaccination campaign carried out by our country, which today has allowed 74% of the population to be vaccinated with the complete schedule . A ‘miracle’ that not many believed in until relatively recently. “The vaccination campaign is a success of science, technology and Spanish society of which we should be very proud “, he said. The seroprevalence study carried out in our country or the CombiVacs clinical trial, whose results were published in the journal The LancetThey are also a source of pride for Yotti.
How has it been possible for us to vaccinate more than 70% of the Spanish population or to carry out projects that involve the entire health system? The key to this is investment. An investment that different countries have made for more than 25 years in mRNA technology and that has made it possible to develop the vaccine against Covid-19 in record time. This success, according to the researcher and specialist in Cardiology, should make us think about the advisability of investing in projects that will yield long-term results.
But not only that, the Secretary General for Research has also highlighted the collaboration between disciplines and different sectors of society “usually separated by impassable walls.” “Public-private collaboration has become a reality”, has been proud. “Support structures have been needed and we need to continue deepening those structures because collaboration that is not supported by a good scaffolding disappears.”
Obtaining data related to Covid-19 was one of the great headaches during the toughest moments of the pandemic. This has been recognized by the researcher, who has assured that “without information it is very difficult to design public policies, much less when they are urgent.” “We lacked data because a profound digital transformation of the national health system is necessary and of all the investigative means to carry out the projects “.
In the same way, the pandemic has shown that there are great social and gender inequalities, which have worsened over the months. Yotti points out that “it is time to take action.” And that action goes through the EU’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which was presented last May by the former Minister of Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, and the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, and which contemplates more than 3,300 million of European funds to promote Spanish R & D & I.
“With the recovery funds we have gone from a very low budget to generating an increase of 60%. Now, the challenge is that this increase in investment in science is sustainable, and for this we need to involve the whole of society”, he assured Yotti. Among the objectives of this ambitious plan are to improve governance and coordination, promote a greater number of scientific careers or bet on the transfer of knowledge. All this always attending to “criteria of excellence”, trying to identify “the seeds of science that have not yet grown” in our country and that they may be in “territories that function as locomotives.”
Only in this way, according to Yotti, will we be better prepared for future pandemics. “I hope that next year, in the third edition of the Health Observatory, we can say that it was the pandemic and this great drama that made us wake up for action”, has ended.
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