Research does not stop during the COVID-19 pandemic. Science is as necessary as ever, but now it is urgent in order to stop the spread of the disease, to seek its treatment and to prevent it. It is urgent, but many of the processes such as clinical trials for vaccines will take time.
Here at Campus Gandia of the Universitat Politècnica de València, as a member of the public research system, we are making our small contribution to improving and understanding the situation created by the health alert.
- Jointly with the other member entities of Safor Salut, we launched an initiative to identify challenges that will help overcome the health emergency caused by COVID-19, or other healthcare challenges.
- We have donated all our personal protective material from the research laboratories to the Hospital de Gandia, complying with the Government’s mandate.
- Campus staff are developing safety visors as part of the Makers initiative.
In addition, Campus research staff are preparing initiatives to present to competitive public invitations to bid related to COVID-19, such as the team that Jaime García Rupérez belongs to, which has experience in applying nanophotonics to diseases, such as cancer. García Rupérez’s team plans to use nanoparticles to efficiently transport medications to the infection site and facilitate their release as necessary.
But the COVID-19 crisis is not only impacting us on a health level, it is affecting all aspects of our lives and we want to understand it. Many of these changes may become integrated into our daily lives, when everything passes.
Graduate student Aline Garcia (singer-songwriter and illustrator known as Garmune) under the supervision of professor Marga Cabrera, is preparing a Final Master’s Degree Project titled “Entertainment in the Time of COVID-19: Online Concerts on Instagram”. Professors Marga Cabrera and Lola Teruel are investigating virtual visits to museums, and professor Cristina Santandreu is supervising the Final Project for the Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism by the student Paula Ribes Noguera, titled “Analysis of the Impact of COVID-19 on Tourism in the Valencian Community”.
Our graduates also want to contribute to improving the reality we are experiencing, such as Nuria Mohedano, a graduate in Tourism from the UPV who, on April 3rd, co-organized a webinar through Travindy, titled “Proposals to Lend a Hand Through Responsible Tourism”.
COVID-19- related activity is not stopping at the Vera and Alcoy campuses, either. For example, the UPV Mathematical Institute of Multidisciplinary Mathematics is carrying out modeling to offer better understanding of the epidemiological development of COVID-19. For their part, the Alcoy Campus is coordinating with the Coronavirus Makers network to tirelessly 3D-print personal protective material. These are some of the many other initiatives carried out by the UPV
THE FUTURE ROLE OF SCIENCE
Scientists and the UN warned that a pandemic was inevitable, but we did not listen to them. In January 2020, the WHO published the article, The Top 13 Global Health Challenges for the New Decade, warning of an imminent and inevitable global pandemic caused by a new highly infectious airborne virus.
Science often finds it difficult to make its voice heard, perhaps because it has no affiliation nor does it defend any ideology. The only purpose of science is to generate knowledge. It is not infallible. It is objective, verifiable and capable of being proved wrong. It is objective, verifiable and capable of being proved wrong.
The results, moreover, are not short-term. Science requires constant investment. It has proven profitable and international organizations say it holds the answer to the future challenges of humanity (UNESCO Science Report, Towards 2030: executive summary).
Will this pandemic help us as a society to seriously invest in Research + Development and Innovation in the future? Here at Campus Gandia we certainly hope so.