Barcelona Stands out in European Research Into Fighting Covid-19. In that regard, Barcelona and the surrounding area play a European leadership role, uniting a powerful healthcare field with a high quality scientific research network. And according to the initial conclusions of a study by Instituto Coordenadas, the city’s response to Covid-19 is an example of public-private partnership.
The response of the healthcare sector, ensuring Barcelona is a safe city, combines with the Catalan capital’s research efforts over several decades and its strength in recruiting talent for innovation and research in biotechnology and health. The city’s hospital network, for instance, has made great strides in both medicine and research during the crisis. Some of the main achievements in that regard include the work of Hospital Clínic, and its partnership with the US-based MIT research team in particular, and the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, which has been congratulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) for managing the fight against the pandemic. Another example of Barcelona’s dominant position lies in the work of the SciTech DiploHub, an initiative that has succeeded in bringing together the field of international scientific diplomacy.
Barcelona’s public-private scientific ecosystem has also been at work during the Covid-19 threat, with around 20 initiatives placing Catalonia’s capital at the forefront in the fight against the pandemic. Examples go from top level clinical trials, such as the one carried out by Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP) to stop those with the virus spreading it further, to IQS’s efforts to find an inhibitor for attacking one of the receptors of Covid-19. Most recently, the expertise of three doctors from Barcelona’s ISGlobal played a key role in redressing the errors relating to the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as regards Covid-19, and there is also the example of the work being carried out into new treatments for eliminating cytokine storms.
Another development that has put Barcelona on the front line has been the global partnership between the city’s six cutting-edge science centres, 110 pharmaceutical companies – with their long-standing relationship with the city – and biotech businesses and start-ups based at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB). The aim of the alliance is to secure an effective antiretroviral drug for fighting Covid-19, vaccines and more effective rapid diagnostic tests.
PCB, with its 2,800 professionals, was Spain’s first science park and is home to IRB Barcelona, which is one of the research centres selected by the European Union to identify an effective vaccine, new treatments and better rapid diagnostic tests. In fact, of the 17 projects selected in Europe, five come from Barcelona and the surrounding area.
The fight against the virus has seen the whole of the local research network entering into partnership. For instance, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) has made its Mare Nostrum supercomputer available to researchers so they can fight the pandemic using artificial intelligence and bioinformatics.
In short, this array of alliances has put Barcelona in a position of excellence on the European map of efforts to fight Covid-19.
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