“Investigation in a pandemic: the crossroad of the future”

In an opinion article that dissects the challenges facing scientific research in the middle of a pandemic, Professor Miguel Castanho, group leader at iMM, understands that "the monopolization of the public debate around the development of vaccines (and, above all, their politicization ) has hindered the discussion about how Scientific Research can effectively be used as a weapon against the virus and the pandemic ".

“Suddenly, the Scientific Investigation is expected to provide a prompt, effective and visible response, in contrast to its meticulous nature, of recurring and secure confirmations, and therefore slow in the media standards of current communication. Especially in the case of research in Health, it is understood that this is the case: “With Health one does not joke” and “Hurry and well there is no one”, as the popular expressions say, without the Scientific Research having a safe conduct in these rules ”, underlines in the publication of Exame Informática.

Assertively, Miguel Castanho raises questions and points out the paths taken by Science, with a view to effective action in controlling the pandemic. “In a country like Portugal, what could we, after all, expect as measures based on scientific knowledge? Immediately, study the critical points of transmission (Public transport? Educational establishments? Families? Workplaces? Parties and entertainment? Restaurants? ...), select decision criteria based on facts (Number of infected? Number of hospitalized? Rate of transmission? ...), obtain the population's trust through a clear communication of the adopted criteria and recommended contingency measures (under what circumstances is a new quarantine justified in case of a second wave?, for example). At the same time, carry out a serious investment in the various areas of knowledge and creativity (biological, social and human sciences, architecture, arts) to design solutions and adaptations, at all levels, to the new normal, which can make it lasting […] ”.

The Professor further argues that it is essential “to reorganize cities, especially in metropolitan areas, avoiding overcrowded dormitories and intense mobility between downtown and peripheries, to make the economy less dependent on a sector as volatile as tourism and, yet, to reindustrialize Portugal with the participation of Science / Innovation and other differentiating creative sectors ”.

However, writes Miguel Castanho, “the catalysis and coordination of Scientific Research efforts to face the challenges raised by the pandemic have been scarce and weak”, he notes, pointing out the gaps he considers evident, in an article to read in full here .