Webinar on Scientific Methods to Tackle COVID-19 in Islamabad
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with Pakistan Academy of Sciences on May 11, 2020, hosted a webinar on “Covid-19 and Open Science”, as a follow up to the UNESCO Virtual Online Ministerial Dialogue on COVID-19 and ‘Open Science’ International scientific collaboration, held in March this year. More than 50 national and international participants including experts, members from academia and students attended the webinar. It explored the opportunities and challenges involved in informed evidence-based decision-making and the role of open science, particularly in the case of COVID-19, for countries like Pakistan.
Patricia McPhillips, UNESCO Representative for Pakistan, Prof Qasim Jan, President Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Prof Tariq Banuri, Chairman Higher Education Commission, Prof Dr. Shahbaz Khan, Director UNESCO Jakarta, Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Maj Gen Aamer Ikram, Executive Director National Institute of Health and President Pakistan Biological Safety Association (PBSA), Prof Zabta Shinwari, Vice Chair-COMEST and Prof. Saeed Khan, Focal Person, COVID-19, DOW UNIVERSITY of Health were the panellists who spoke on the importance of open data and knowledge access.
The panellists emphasized that an open science data platform is critical for an evidence-based policy formulation. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the global necessity for open access to scientific data, which is vital. Panellists concurred that although there are multiple crises globally underway, with COVID-19 the most acute, climate, biodiversity, pollution, water and energy are also global concerns to be addressed. The need to bring youth for better mobilization of science was highlighted, with a note that openly available information and knowledge is critical for researchers and students globally. The need to curb the global “infodemics”, with reliable scientific data was highlighted as a global challenge, with “infodemics” a growing challenge in the case of the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, it is all the more important that knowledge and experiences should be shared amongst all nations. There were many questions from a very active and interested group of online participants.