Unseen side effect of COVID-19? Science research has slowed down

Posted Oct 16, 2020 by Tim Sandle
Scientific research has slowed down across multiple fields due to the coronavirus pandemic, as a new survey reveals. While COVID-19 research continues, research in other fields is at an all time low.
Delicate work: A technician at the WAVE laboratory checks cultures of cassava
Delicate work: A technician at the WAVE laboratory checks cultures of cassava
A survey conducted by the Royal Society of Biology reveals that a considerable body of scientific research has slowed down due to the coronavieus pandemic. In other areas, research has become orinetated towards supporting COVID-19 activities.
Concerns expressed by researchers include personal safety and spread of the coronavirus within the research community and concerns about the continuity of funding for research positions, projects or programmes.In relation to this, and as part of the direct impact of departments closing throuhgout the coronavirus peak, a number of researchers said they were concerned about cuts to research or teaching positions.
Discussing the challenges of COVID-19 control measures on academia, Biophysicist Professor Pietro Cicuta (University of Cambridge) says that many departments across universities remain closed or they are under tight restrictions. Here he notes: "I don’t think the physics department has ever locked its doors to academics in its 200-year history – even on Christmas day we're normally still able to go in."
He adds: "I mean not everything is functioning very well. We're four weeks and 90% of the administrative effort is still about shutting down – stopping orders, putting people on furlough."
In terms of the challenges this presents, Cicuta adds: "So, you're dealing with shutting down, and at the same time you have lots of people who are either trying to do the research anyway or trying to do new things, who need new forms of support. It's a very interesting challenge."
A similar impact has affected immunologists Dr Elizabeth Mann and Dr Madhvi Menon, who are from the University of Manchester in the U.K. While they have supported COVID-19 research projects, the academics note: "In the midst of the university shutting down, our entire way of working has changed. We have combined resources and expertise to generate a core team to enable this programme, which would not be possible without such a positive collaborative effort."