EghtesadOnline: Prominent scientists and health activists from over 10 countries gathered on the second day of the 7th Science and Technology Exchange Program (STEP) on May 28 to address “the scientific and technological collaboration facing coronavirus challenge”.
On the second and last day of STEP virtual summit, several Mustafa Prize laureates and eminent scientists from Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Singapore and Turkey met online to share their research findings, experiences and achievements regarding Covid-19, public relations office of Mustafa Prize reported.
Featuring keynote speeches by professors Jackie Ying and Ugur Sahin, leading scientists in combating the novel Coronavirus, and panel discussions attended by 30 healthcare officials and scientists, the 7th STEP served as a platform to synergize the capacities of scientists and experts in the Muslim world to help solve this global crisis.
At the start of the program, Jorge Chediek, UNOSSC director and envoy of the secretary-general on south-south cooperation, and, Olzhas Abishev, Kazakhstan’s vice minister of healthcare, delivered the inaugural messages.
"We are putting together some of the best minds in the Islamic world to confront the challenges brought about by coronavirus," Chediek said.
Calling STEP "a perfect example to overcome the pandemic and establish a last-longing network among Muslim scientists", Abishev pointed to the necessity of "consolidation and solidarity in overcoming this disease. We should work closely together and openly share expertise".
After the inauguration, four Mustafa Prize laureates, Jackie Ying, Ugur Sahin, Hossein Baharvand and Mohammad Abdolahad, presented their keynote speeches.
Work on Track
Ying discussed the recent works she has been conducting, along with her research team, to develop an effective Covid-19 test kit.
"There are many kits out there but the sensitivity is really important because it determines the accuracy of the result," she said.
"Recently, Nanobiolab has developed CEPAT which is a novel exponential isothermal amplification method detecting coronavirus in less than 10 minutes. We are trying to develop better kits."
Immunologist Ugur Sahin talked about an mRNA-based vaccine that he and his research team has recently tested on humans.
According to Sahin, "The clinical trial protocol of the vaccine started in Germany on April 23, 2020, with a target population of 200 healthy subjects aged 18 to 55. Objective of this was safety and tolerability, immunogenicity and determining the optimal dose for further studies."
He also announced that the first results of this study are expected by the end of June or early July.
Hossein Baharvand discussed "mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of patients with SARS-CoV-2-related."
The 2019 Mustafa Prize laureate stated, "The findings suggest that infusions of MSC are safe and well-tolerated in patients with acute or chronic compromised respiratory conditions. Recently, there have been two reports from China that show there has been significant improvement in outcomes of seven Covid pneumonia patients."
Mohammad Abdolahad, also a 2019 Mustafa Prize laureate, talked about a detector that he and his team designed. The ROS detector of sputum sample is "a simple electrochemical sensor with nano structure that selectively detects the intensity of ROS in the sputum sample in just 30 seconds".
Abdolahad stressed that the ROS system is not a Covid-19 detector, because it detects material in the sputum of patients, who are then referred to Covid-19 specialists.
Next, a roundtable was held during which senior officials from Iran, Italy, Japan and Pakistan shared strategies to discuss "Post-Coronavirus: Policies and Strategies for the Second Wave of Coronavirus."
Mak Paoli spoke of the major aspects that caused Italy to be hard hit by coronavirus.
"First of all, Italian culture does not respect governmental rules. A lot of people disrespect the rules; the second point is we are paying the cost of budget cuts over the past two years in the health sector. Germany has about five times more emergency beds than Italy. German health facilities are way better," he said.
Haruka Sakamoto also discussed Japan's strategies for dealing with Covid-19, stating that "Japan put priority on preventing the cluster causing another cluster and did not put much emphasis on sporadic cases".
According to her, the three strategies of “testing, contact tracing and isolation policy” were implemented in Japan.
A panel discussion was also held during which seven scientists from Iran, Pakistan, Italy and Jordan discussed "Scientific and Technological Networking in Facing the Coronavirus Challenges in the Islamic World."
Pointing to the importance of scientific and political cooperation, Rana Dajani said, "We are in this together. The general public will suffer if we don’t collaborate. We should identify our strengths and weaknesses to go forward. It's not about competition but collaboration."
She suggested disseminating science to the public in terms of ethics, values and informing them in terms of education.
After the roundtable, the individual speakers gave their presentation on various aspects of the coronavirus. For example, Prof. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, co-director of the Center for Global Child Health, discussed children and Covid-19.
He stated that "the majority of Covid-19 cases to date have been reported among adults. Available data suggest approximately 1-2% of cases in children. Also, pediatric clinical manifestations are not typical and relatively milder, compared with that of adult patients."
The 7th Science and Technology Exchange Program thus came to an end after 13 hours of scientific discussion on Covid-19 research findings and various strategies to fight it.