30 Jul 2020 20:51

Russian, U.S. scientists sign document on cooperation in Covid-19 research, treatment

MOSCOW. July 30 (Interfax) - The president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Sergeyev, and the president of the United States' National Academy of Sciences, Marcia McNutt, signed a protocol, regarding cooperation various fields of research into Covid-19, online on Thursday.

"This document is effectively a continuation of a whole catalogue of cooperation agreements between the two countries' scientists beginning from 1959," the Institute of World Economy and International Relations' director Fyodor Voitolovsky, who co-authored the protocol, told Interfax.

The protocol stipulates further cooperation on epidemiological and biomolecular studies.

Five areas of cooperation are outlined as being of particular importance, the scientist said. First, virological and epidemiological studies of Covid-19 and its varieties; secondly, pathophysiological studies where medics will be developing methods to diagnose and treat the disease. Thirdly, mathematical and computer-aided simulation of the global pandemic and its spread. The fourth area is socio-economic and psychological effects of the pandemic and its impact on society, the related humanitarian risks. And finally, boosting biosecurity in general and the U.S.-Russian dialogue on boosting biosecurity in general.

The protocol took more than four months to draw up, Voitolovsky said.

"This process was difficult. The difficulties were mainly on the U.S. side, because despite this being such a topical issue the U.S. scientists had to overcome political restrictions and go through a whole host of difficult approval procedures. Unfortunately, cooperation among scientists even on such purely scientific problems faces quite serious political restrictions. The U.S. side had to go through a system of fairly difficult approval procedures," Voitolovsky said.

This kind of cooperation, which was laid down back in the 20th century, "concerns a wide circle of military and non-military security problems, including the bio threat and fighting dangerous diseases," he said.

The two academies already cooperated in fighting dangerous infectious diseases such as anthrax, Ebola and smallpox, he said.

"It should be noted that whenever Soviet-American relations ran into a difficulty, the dialogue between the two countries' scientists opened completely unexpected opportunities for exchange of information, for communication, for discussion, including military and nonmilitary security problems," Voitolovsky said.

The dialogue especially intensified in 1981 at a very high point of bilateral tensions, he said.

"At the time, the heads of the two countries' academies of sciences met and discussed cooperation possibilities and decided to interact on a wide range of security problems, including even biosecurity issues and fighting infectious diseases," Voitolovsky said.