The Ministry of Science and Innovation coordinates the efforts in research and innovation against COVID-19

This was explained this Thursday by Minister Pedro Duque at a press conference in Moncloa, in which he also reported on the good pace of scientific research in Spain to try to find a coronavirus vaccine.

Minister Duque has appeared at a press conference in Moncloa, together with the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, after chairing a video conference this afternoon with the autonomous councilors with powers in Science and Innovation to inform them of the latest advances in research against the COVID-19 and to know the situation of the Autonomous Communities in this matter.

At the meeting, in which the Secretary General for Research and the Secretary General for Innovation also participated, formulas were established to strengthen collaboration between institutions. All the Autonomous Communities have shown their interest in joint collaboration, in holding regular meetings and in conveying to their respective governments the paramount importance of science and innovation to combat the epidemic.

In the telematic meeting, the protocols of the Autonomous Communities for the homologation of material and the possibilities of promoting some research facilities with joint financing, in charge of the State budgets and autonomies, as well as FEDER funds, have been shared. . They have also talked about the COVID-19 Fund, which, with 24 million euros, is managed by the Carlos III Health Institute and for which more than 800 proposals have already arrived from different Autonomous Communities.

In addition, a common procedure has been agreed for the authorization of newly developed respirators that must be approved by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products. Minister Duque has underlined the need to be very rigorous with the validation of new products and explained that, with the minimum bureaucracy, they are evaluated to determine their usefulness.

The representatives of Science and Innovation have analyzed the situation of innovative companies that are converting their normal production into the production of equipment against COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment and respirators.

Likewise, the Autonomous Communities have made regional research resources available to the Government, to reinforce the PCR diagnostic test analysis system, which is coordinated by the Carlos III Health Institute, an agency attached to the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

The Ministry works to ensure that the biotech industry achieves the highest level of production of the supplies necessary to face this pandemic. Specifically, significant efforts are being made to develop diagnostic tests. On the one hand, work is being done to increase production by the four companies certified to produce the PCR tests and, on the other hand, for other companies to produce PCR tests, rapid tests and RNA extraction kits, with the support of the ISCIII in prototype testing.

To this conference are added weekly contacts with the European Union and authorities from other countries. Firstly, on Tuesday a telematic meeting with European representatives took place, in which the making available of funds for the scientific fight against COVID-19 was especially addressed. The minister explained that the Government is going to try to make the Spanish industrial fabric take advantage of funds for science and innovation.

Also, for the second time, a conference was held with authorities from around the world organized by the United States Office of Science, a contact that allows Spain to have a complete vision of international advances in the search for treatments and vaccines against the coronavirus and in which it is verified that the investigations that are being carried out in Spain are at the same level as those that are being carried out in other parts of the world.

Minister Duque has highlighted the state of research to achieve antiviral treatments and a vaccine in Spanish centers, which are following various lines of search that are expected to yield results in the coming months.

First vaccine candidate in late April

Among them is the one followed by the group of professors Luis Enjuanes and Isabel Sola at the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB) of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), a center of the highest international level, and which will allow to have a first vaccine candidate at the end of April, which must then be tested on animals. The minister explained that in this line of research, which works on a vaccine with the complete attenuated virus, there is only one other group worldwide. "It is a type of vaccine of the most advanced in the world and that has more signs of working the first time," he explained.

There is also progress in another Spanish research project, also led at the CNB by Professor Mariano Esteban, who works with another type of vaccine that is faster, because it uses part of the virus, and which could also give positive results. "We continue to believe that there is a possibility that the coronavirus vaccine will be discovered in Spain," he said.

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