It is clear that this pandemic will have an impact on the socioeconomic situation of every country around the world. Loss of lives, breakdown of the health system and significant unemployment. However, we think everything has a positive side. First, we think many people will start to appreciate more the importance of research and scientists. People will realize that scientific development is the most effective weapon against these kinds of problems, not only in biomedicine, but also regarding challenges such as climate change and feeding a growing population.
We hope that global awareness about the need for scientists will increase. We hope that people, and particularly their representatives, will consider science as a tool for society in the sense of a long-term investment, so that we can prevent similar emergencies as much as possible. By now, we should all have an understanding of how powerful a virus can be and how fragile we are as a society, in a situation like this. We believe that after the COVID crisis, governments will start preparing for possible situations like this in the future, and prevention will be a priority.
Another change that we have seen during this crisis is the way researchers work together. In the past, different sectors have not communicated well and cross-links were not as strong as they are becoming right now. During this outbreak, interdisciplinary collaborations have been made across universities and industrial entities in different countries to help overcome the crisis and to understand the virus better. These intersectoral and interdisciplinary collaborations have a major impact on scientific progress and contribute innovative ideas to solve problems in a broad range of fields. This type of collaborative research model is embedded in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funded projects such as ours and we strongly believe that this will enhance our scientific outputs. Furthermore, scientists are learning how to communicate their work quickly and more effectively using preprint repositories, which were poorly used before but have become vital for sharing COVID-19 research.
For centuries, scientists have contributed to world progress by understanding biological mechanisms, developing technology, curing diseases, and so on. Nevertheless, we think that scientists could contribute more by directing their investigations towards improvements in sustainability and climate change. We think this pandemic is the result of humans taking the world for granted. Therefore, our research should contribute to the ecosystem as well as human wellness to avert this kind of crisis. Here we are undoubtedly referring to the climate crisis, which should long have been a priority for scientists and humanity. Moreover, protection of biodiversity is one of the key elements scientists are claiming to be relevant for containing outbreaks. Our PhD program is profoundly based on unraveling and preserving biodiversity, and to proposing alternative processes that can have a lower impact on the environment. In this small way, we are contributing to the health of the planet and its people.