The Minister of Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, stressed that science works against the clock to find a solution to the health emergency caused by the SARS-VOC-2 and has ensured that Spanish research is competitive and will be able to provide highly valuable results to this global fight to find treatments and vaccines. The Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, approved by the Council of Ministers on March 17, includes 30 million euros to boost its research into the new coronavirus.
Duque explained that Spanish researchers are in daily contact with centers in other countries and there is a constant exchange of ideas to find the best solution to this crisis. "The Spanish investigations that we are promoting are competitive and could contribute highly valuable results to this global fight," he said.
Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la BellacasaSpecifically, Duque stressed that in Spain there is the ability to manufacture vaccines and medicines, both those discovered in our country and those that come from other countries. For this, the necessary capacities are being maintained and promoted. In particular, coordination in the European Union is guaranteed, and this will allow the solutions that science finds to be developed.
With regard to Spain, the minister explained that Spanish researchers began to work intensively as soon as this disease became known, during the month of January, and in early February, means were released to ensure maximum facilities. and all means to research.
Spain has very competitive areas and is concentrating on them. The Government is promoting research in several centers, which collaborate on projects both its own and those of the European Union. As examples, Minister Duque has cited some of them:
- National Center for Biotechnology (CNB): The team led by Luis Enjuanes and Isabel Sola is working on the development of a vaccine. In this same center, there is another group led by Mariano Esteban that is working on another vaccine based on another strategy with viral proteins.
- Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2): works on a rapid diagnostic method through a new device based on optical biosensing nanotechnology that will detect the coronavirus in about 30 minutes.
- National Center for Microelectronics-IMB: works with the ICN2 in the electronic part, manufacturing chips in the clean room.
- Polytechnic University of Madrid and the Clinical hospital: Work on another quick diagnostic kit.
The National Supercomputing Center-Barcelona Supercomputing Center (CNS-BSC) has several advanced drug design projects assisted by high-capacity computing. In addition, it assists the other groups in providing computational power, which, combined with biochemical and phenotypic testing, can greatly reduce the time required for drug creation.
Furthermore, the Carlos III Health Institute, under the Ministry of Science and Innovation, has launched an additional call to initiate high-level research, through the COVID-19 Fund, financed with up to 24 million euros approved in the Royal Decree-Law of extraordinary urgent measures to face the economic and social impact of the new coronavirus.
On the other hand, Duque explained that public research organizations and universities are turning to making their medical equipment and their capacities to diagnose COVID-19 available to the Ministry of Health: the CSIC has 47 laboratories throughout Spain biosafety and 437 virus analysis machines using genetic methods to analyze samples that health authorities can already use to make further detections of COVID-19. And in a first phase, a total of 27 universities have reported the availability of 937 people trained to carry out diagnostic tests and many material resources.
Likewise, the Government is going to support innovation in companies whose activity may have been affected by this health emergency. On Tuesday, the Council of Ministers approved a line of direct aid to business R & D + I free of guarantees with a mobilization of 500 million euros in loans for SMEs and companies of up to 1,500 workers. The minister thanked the scientists for their work, who are making "a tremendous effort. The vaccine will arrive and be available to the Spanish," he said.