Coronavirus spurs science and technology projects in Oman

Muscat: COVID-19 has spurred many research initiatives across the world including Oman. “There has been a tremendous impact of COVID-19 on science and technology research in the Sultanate which also has demonstrated its continued commitment to universal health coverage,” says Dr Khalid al Rasadi, Director of Medical Research Centre (MRC), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).

He mentions that there are strong indications that the pandemic will cause the largest economic downturn since the 2008 financial crisis.

Set up in 2017, the primary aim of the MRC centre is to conduct, coordinate and facilitate high-quality research on themes that are highly relevant to Oman and its health issues.

Dr Khalid informs that the fast-rising scholarly work on COVID-19 epidemic with thousands of scientists switching their research interests to the Coronavirus all over the globe.

“In less than five months, COVID-19 studies accounted for almost 70 per cent of all Coronavirus studies published in the last 50 years with over 24,000 researches from perreviewed journals as well as other sources covering everything from virology, epidemiology, diagnostic, technology and economy.”

To harness the use of science and technology to mitigate the pandemic and other global challenges like non-communicable chronic diseases, Dr Khalid suggests a four-point plan.

These mainly relate to strengthening the national capacities for science-policy advisory systems, enhance public trust in science and maintain credibility with the public by honestly explaining the uncertainties and evolving knowledge about the diseases.

The last plan of action relates to protecting science, technology and innovation funding during the epidemics and its aftermath.
The MRC Director who took charge in November 2019 further states that science and technology continued to support the Supreme Committee and policies of the health authorities on best methods to face COVID-19.

Many research projects, concerning COVID-19, Dr Khalid says are being conducted at different health and non-health sectors institutions and universities covering various topics from virology, epidemiology, diagnostic, technology and economy.

At SQU more than 15 research projects are being conducted on the epidemic which is funded by the research council, Medical Research Centre at SQU and top corporates like Saud Bahwan Group, OQ, Oman Oil Company, Muscat Pharmacy, CC Energy Development (Oman branch), Tethys Oil Oman and MEPME Mitsui E&P Middle East BV.