The COVID-19 Pandemic: Themes for Research
Pandemics in human history always often result in untold and sometimes unparalleled problems that would need great thinkers to offer solutions. Researchers are positive opportunists who do not relent in their efforts in continually investigating the ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘who’, and ‘how’ of every situation just to bring relief to mankind. In the current outbreak, researchers in the diverse disciplines must think of how to offer a new lens of understanding to the outbreak and more importantly offer urgent solutions to its associated challenges that threaten human structures for survival.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic, scholars in the field of Health and Allied Sciences have started investigating the etiology, epidemiology, pathophysiology, histopathology, clinical evaluation/treatment/management and diagnosis of the COVID-19. A survey of the scholarly works in this field shows great contributions of Asian researchers, especially from China, where the outbreak began. These hardworking researchers never relented in their efforts in investigating medically, what should be done to fight the virus. These remarkable researchers kept on pursuing this path even under perilous working conditions that resulted in the loss of some. They have truly demonstrated and shown what researchers must do all the time in constantly searching for solutions to alleviate the pain of their fellow humans even in times of pandemic. However, more has to be done by their colleagues in other countries. There is a need for medical scientists to investigate the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus in different regions of the world. Interestingly, other scholars in the field of medicine are busily investigating this phenomenon to inform knowledgeably on the coronavirus, suggesting preventive measures and more importantly, finding medical cure and vaccine to fully combat it. For instance, while medical scientists search through the lens of orthodox medicine, herbal practitioners are experimenting on ways of using herbal extracts in producing medicine that can boost the immune system and/or provide a strong immune buffer to fight the coronavirus. These efforts are commendable. More work has to be done in searching for more efficient means of conducting tests on COVID-19 patients, carrying out contact tracing, and precautionary/preventive measures for the coronavirus.
Researchers in the field of Engineering, particularly Computer and Mechanical Engineering are devising technologies to help in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19. Digital technologies such as drones and robocops have been designed and used in some countries, to sum up, manual enforcement of lockdowns. Likewise, mobile technologies such as the development of new apps for contact tracing of patients of the COVID-19 as well as those who have had contact with them are being designed. For instance, MIT researchers are developing a system based on artificial intelligence to complement the manual contact tracing carried out by public health personnel that relies on short-range Bluetooth signals from smartphones. In South Africa, ambulances endowed with automated test kits and laboratory services designed as a result of diligent efforts in research are being used in testing and tracking persons with the COVID-19 even in remote, hard-to-reach areas. In Ghana, the Ministry of Health recently launched the COVID-19 app for tracing people infected or who have had contact with carriers of the COVID-19 virus. These technologies developed as a result of rigorous studies by some mechanical engineers as well as computer hardware and software engineers are being deployed to aid in the fight against the COVID-19. More technological tools to fight the coronavirus are still required and dedicated researchers in the field of engineering are constantly on the table investigating these potentials.
Researchers in agriculture has a great research task in stock for them. The lockdown has resulted in a high record of postharvest losses in countries. What are the efficient ways of mitigating post-harvest losses during periods of pandemic and lockdowns? How can farmers use online marketing strategies and platforms to connect to clients to patronize their products to prevent them from incurring high financial losses? What can the ministry of food and agriculture do to assist these poor farmers in managing the crisis of lockdowns? What are some of the efficient ways the perishable farm produce could be processed into non-perishable products by food manufacturing companies? These are excellent themes that merit investigation by agriculturalists during this pandemic outbreak. Sadly, studies in these areas are yet to be undertaken.
The tourism and hospitality management sector have been hit greatly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many scheduled tours and tourism activities have been canceled due to travel bans and lockdowns. It is estimated that the tourism sector globally will lose high revenue up to the value of close to two billion dollars. This is the time researchers in tourism and hospitality management might consider virtual means of marketing these tourism sites through intensified research into smart tourism and e-tourism. This growing field in tourism has not been given much attention, especially in developing countries. This pandemic period should be the time that researchers in this field would find ways of increasing public awareness of smart tourism and e-tourism.