ANSO Scientific Webinar on Combating COVID-19

To share the latest scientific achievements and perspectives for international cooperation in the joint battling against COVID-19 pandemic, a scientific webinar was organized by ANSO on 9 Oct. 2020. Another task of this meeting is to discuss within the ANSO family on what ANSO should do and what priorities should be emphasized in the post-pandemic world from the view point of facilitating international cooperation and exchange both within and with the outside. Prof. Jinghua Cao, the Executive Director of ANSO Secretariat gave the opening remarks and he highly appreciated the great support from the ANSO members to China in the early days of the outbreak and the joint efforts in the fight. Prof. Haiwon Lee, ANSO Special Advisor, co-chaired the webinar with Prof. Cao. 8 distinguished speakers delivered keynote speeches to more than 50 participants from the ANSO member organizations. 

Prof. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta (University of Toronto), representing the Pakistan Acadmey of Sciences, shared his team’s latest study on the impacts of COVID-19 on children. They found that children under 19 tend to have milder symptoms and lower COVID-19 mortality, but this situation may change with an increasing number of the infected and the effects left. The indirect effects of COVID-19 on children and women in South Asia are much more sever, the data has showed significant increase of child and maternal mortality after the pandemic, girls are much more vulnerable facing a more sever situation of being married off and of adolescent pregnancy. Prof. Bojie Fu’s study showed that COVID-19 pandemic will reverse the sustainable development progress we obtained in the past decades and are causing a lot more challenges and uncertainties for the world. He study further emphasies that promoting UN SDGs in the post-pandemic should follow more the 3C (Classification, Coordination and Collaboration) approaches. The 3C approaches are not only related to governments, institutions and enterprises, but also to individuals and whole society. For example, in containing the pandemic, an individual behaviour also plays a part.

The statuses and lessons learnt from COVID-19 in Poland, Africa, Serbia and Thailand were reported by Prof. Jerzy Duszynski (President of Polish Academy of Sciences), Prof. Felix D. Dakora (President of African Academy of Sciences-AAS), Prof. Prasit Palittapongarnpim (Vice-president of NSTDA) and Prof. Nebojsa Lalic (Dean of Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade) respectively. Poland and Serbia successfully controlled the spreading of COVID-19 by various measures taken by the governments, but are facing a new wave of positive cases. Unknowing its exact cause of it makes the current situtation a more challenging one. While causing burden on national, economy recovery, mental health and society stability, the situation calls for more international cooperation and efforts in addressing the challege. Africa has 17% of the global population but only 3.5% of the global COVID-19 death. The much lower death rate in Africa might be due to a much younger population compared with other regions. AAS has carried out centrally-coordinated activities by working closely with UKCDR, WHO and other organizations/units. All the speakers called for further international cooperation on combating COVID-19 and all apprecated the efforts taken by ANSO including organizng such informative and productive meeting.

Prof. Yiming Bao from the Beijing Institute of Genomics/CAS gave a detailed introducution on 2019 Novel Coronavirus Data Center (2019nCoVR) , which has contributed significant data and information to the Genetic study and vaccines/durgs development in China and other countries. Prof. Daming Wang from the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology/CAS elaborated the scientific bases, methodology and clinical evaluation in developing various COVID-19 testing kits. His approaches in developing the testing kits are both inspiring and instructinve. Both expresseed the wish to broaden international collaboration, particularly from the ANSO members and partners. 
During the discussion, the message of working together and helping each other to combating the global crisis under the international cooperation platform like ANSO is emphasized by all participants. Today many countries are facing the challenge of misinformation and disinformation to the public on the social media, and science community worldwide needs to play an more active role in communicating science and facts with policy makers and to the public. The ANSO Secretariat was particularly advised by the participants to organize some joint activities with members under the “One Health”concept to exchange interdisciplinary information, enhance the relationship between the scientist community and the public, and promote the production of the vaccines locally, etc. Improving the S&T community is a huge undertaking that involves contributions from every part. The broader international cooperation and exchange will benefit various countries and regions in better understanding the pandemic from diverse perspectives and in taking more appropriate actions. 

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