Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Research response to COVID-19 highlighted in new report

The manner in which New Zealand’s research, science and innovation sector responded to the COVID-19 pandemic has been showcased in a new report released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

The COVID-19 Research Response report outlines how innovative organisations have been supported over the past two years to produce world-leading research.

“During the pandemic, the Government used the knowledge and findings of our nation’s researchers and scientists to help shape policy and the national response to the pandemic,” the Ministry said in a statement.

This included $10.5 million to support 20 projects led by the University of Auckland, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s biggest research organisations with significant capability in health, medicine and science.

“Researchers from a broad background of disciplines guided decision making and helped to better understand COVID-19 and its ongoing implications for society,” the Ministry said.

The report also illustrates how organisations that would not normally be associated with public health have contributed to the response. An example of this is the Xerra Earth Observation Institute which used satellite data and maritime intelligence to strengthen maritime border security.

Key projects highlighted in the report include research into new ways to rapidly characterise viral strains through genomic sequencing, production of hand sanitisers from wine-industry waste, and modelling of airborne transmission which informed public health measures to reduce infection rates.

The report also confirms that New Zealand’s research is high-quality and contributes to global knowledge bases, improving understanding of the pandemic and its effects on the world.

“It shows that researchers have taken advantage of the opportunities presented by the pandemic to establish new collaborative relationships and produce world-leading research that has led to significant improvements in our collective wellbeing,” MBIE said.

“Other areas highlighted in the report include how funding has supported innovative organisations, what our fields of research are, our research quality, the role of early career researchers and the characteristics of publications. It is illustrated with vignettes provided by the Research, Science and Innovation sector.”

The report takes information from the COVID-19 research database with other data sources including the Dimensions bibliometric dataset.

This is the second COVID-19 Research Response report to be published, with the first released in July 2020.

Read the COVID-19 Research Response report.

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