Coronavirus sparks innovation and scientific research

Haider al Lawati

On the brighter side of the coronavirus pandemic that we are experiencing, universities, R&D centres and scientific institutions have been compelled to pursue new research on drug treatments and vaccine production, among other scientific initiatives.

Some Arab countries, including Oman, have begun scientific research on topics emerging from the pandemic.  The Research Council (TRC) in Muscat recently approved its tenth five-year plan, which includes the financing of 28 research projects and the establishment of a Centre of Excellence to drive 5G networks and the Internet of Things. These decisions are in line with Oman’s 2040 strategic for scientific research and development, which is closely aligned with the national strategy for innovation, and the 2040 Economic Vision for Oman’s development.

Today, the pandemic is receiving great attention from the scientific community, which is focused on conducting more scientific research on vaccines that can save mankind from this deadly virus behind the deaths of thousands of people of all ages, professions and backgrounds.

Today, this pandemic is pushing scientific centres and societies to enhance cooperation with academic institutions to carry out research projects that concern various aspects of the epidemic and other diseases afflicting humankind.  As we know, scientific research is considered the main engine for ideas and initiatives, and a source of new inventions, while governments and large private productive and industrial institutions in the world allocate part of their annual financial budgets to support and finance such research and studies.

Globally, the outputs of scientific research are linked to the production sector to find complementarity between disciplines and needs, and to enhance its role in development. For its part, the Sultanate seeks to create a research and development sector in its scientific institutions to become an essential part of the economy, which prompted it to allocate two per cent of the gross national income to scientific research by the year 2040.

UNESCO statistics indicate that there only a small handful of countries that spend more than 100 billion dollars annually in the fields of scientific research and development. Topping the list is the United States, followed by China which is a competitor in the economic, scientific, and commercial fields. There are other countries in the European Union that show great interest in spending on scientific research, although they are not sure of the outcomes.  Countries like Japan, Germany, South Korea, France, and Britain, among others in the developing world, have also entered the fray.  Indeed, today there are tens of thousands of people working in research, working to develop and control markets as well as to serve humanity’s goals.