Global Efforts to Save Humanity.. But Where Is the Arab World?

While the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, there is a race against time to confront it. Huge efforts have been made to find a vaccine to get rid of this deadly disease. The frequency of these efforts has increased at the global level, especially after the virus spread quickly and unexpectedly from China to almost all countries in the world. Each and every spot on the earth became threatened by the invasion of this non-living creature, as it deadly disturbs the whole world in an unprecedented way, especially with regard to the way of its infection, its speed, and  its effect on various aspects of life in most, if not all, countries in the world.

In light of this worsening reality and despite the unprecedented measures taken by countries, the hope seems to depend on the medical research centers for finding a treatment capable of conquering this virus, just as it has conquered the world. Therefore, scientific laboratories around the world are in a race against the clock and many compete against one another to find the desired vaccine before the virus kills millions of people within months, if no treatment is found.

In China, where the virus reportedly originated and where it was discovered for the first time last December, huge efforts are being exerted to find a vaccine for the virus. They expect the clinical testing of a number of vaccines to take place next April. In France, multiple laboratories are active in finding a vaccine for the virus. In Italy, the epicenter of the virus in Europe, private drug companies are actively developing appropriate vaccines, through the use of genetic vaccination techniques capable of generating antibodies to fight the virus. In the United States, which had underestimated the risks of COVID-19 before it was hit by the virus, many drug companies are striving, with significant government support, to develop the vaccine. One vaccine has already been tested and the results are expected to be revealed soon. In Australia and Canada, laboratory research has made important achievements, with researchers optimistic that they are getting close to a vaccine. In Germany, famous for its pharmaceutical industry equipped with modern scientific laboratories, several laboratories are doing this task, most importantly the company CureVac. Reportedly, President Donald Trump has tried to lure CureVac to work for his country, after receiving reports indicating it had come very close to a vaccine. Some say this attempt was immoral, with Trump putting the interests of his country above others. However, this virus appears to be an opportunity to unite the world and to restore some aspects of humanity, which have been lost due to wars, conflicts, selfishness, and hate.

Amid all these efforts to save humankind, which will hopefully reach promising results very soon, we have not heard of any real Arab efforts in this regard, despite the following facts: the Arab world has many scholars and researchers; people in the region often talk about achievements in the field of education, and some countries in the region are wealthy enough to finance large scientific experiments.

In fact, this raises many questions about the real status of scientific research in the Arab word, its authenticity, and the obstacles that stand in its way, especially those related to academic freedom. Scientific research cannot achieve its goals unless there is a supportive environment and, most importantly, full scientific freedom.

Many are also asking why there is little Arab cooperation in this field. And why haven’t regional wealthy countries been funding independent Arab institutes and research centers that specialize in drug development.