Promoting research on Covid-19

The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) has successfully cultivated and isolated the new coronavirus (Covid-19). With the isolated virus, the NIHE will start work on developing test kits that are capable to give quick diagnosis results. With the cultivation and isolation of the acute respiratory virus, Vietnam is capable of conducting tests on thousands of samples per day if necessary. It would also offer the opportunity for further research for vaccines against the virus in the near future.

Health officials visit an nCoV-infected patient at the healthcare centre of Binh Xuyen district, Vinh Phuc province, on February 6 (Photo: VNA)
Health officials visit an nCoV-infected patient at the healthcare centre of Binh Xuyen district, Vinh Phuc province, on February 6 (Photo: VNA)

At the same time, the Ministry of Science and Technology had an urgent meeting with leading scientists to identify urgent research tasks in the context that Covid-19 is infecting Vietnam. After only a few days, three national-level research missions were assigned to research units and enterprises. The proactive manufacturing of test kits is the first urgent task and the number one priority in order to screen and not miss any infected cases, especially in the absence of clinical signs such as a cough or fever but still positive for Covid-19, at the same time, giving quick results to help ease pressure for isolation facilities.

According to research teams, if the conditions are favourable, after roughly one month, the test kits will be completed and ready for use. They started studying the disease closely right from the first case that arrived in Vietnam and there is ongoing close cooperation between scientists and enterprises in the fight against the epidemic.

The National Hospital of Tropical Diseases is also preparing all resources and creating favourable conditions to receive all Covid-19-infected patients at the hospital, while ensuring medical safety to avoid cross-contamination in the hospital, as well as providing technical transfer to facilities at lower levels to support them while dealing with the Covid-19 epidemic.

Although the research and development of the vaccine will take quite a long time, the Company for Vaccines and Biological Production No.1 (Vabiotech) has been in contact with scientists from the UK to ask for support and to take part in joint research. Currently, the company's scientists have come to the UK to directly conduct research. Vabiotech leaders believe that it is necessary to actively study vaccines now to cope with Covid-19 and new variants.

The prompt participation of scientists along with other solutions of ministries, branches and localities have contributed to the repression of the disease caused by Covid-19. The research results have only helped respond urgently to the epidemic, but also contributed to providing the world with an overall picture of Covid-19. Therefore, it is necessary to invest in a quick and long-term manner. This is also considered an opportunity for Vietnam to have a deep understanding of the epidemiological nature of the disease, accumulate the necessary experience, train more experts and produce more modern equipment to respond to epidemics. In addition, biosecurity should be ensured for the cultivated virus source in the laboratory to prevent risks to the environment.