The world hopes to win the battle to the pandemic caused by COVID-19 disease thanks to science. The recommendations received by governments to implement the measures to deal with the disease are given precisely by the professionals in this field. More importantly, thanks to them, we can say that it is becoming closer to finding a vaccine that generates immunity and thus overcoming the disease.
Research groups from many parts of the world are involved in the race to find the vaccine. However, some enjoy factors that give them an advantage over others. One such factor is research and development (R&D), a component that involves the acquisition of knowledge and skills to generate innovation.
In recent years, it has been proven that spending money and funds on science and technology allows companies to improve processes, design new procedures and novel products and services. For this reason, its value as an effective and fundamental engine for increasing the productivity of companies and boosting the country’s economy is indisputable.
The United States ranks as the largest investor in technological development, although China is expected to outperform it by 2025. On the other hand, in Europe, countries such as Germany, Austria or Switzerland remain around the third place of investment in R&D relative to their GDP, while France or Belgium are left behind, despite exceeding 2%.
The pandemic has established a situation that has exceeded the forecasts of those countries a priori more powerful and that seemed to be better prepared. This is the case in the United States, which has opted for partial confinement and to keep the economy running despite the risk of more infection and even the pandemic could take more lives.
A mixed position that contrasts with that of other European and South American countries that have chosen, despite the coup that it entails for the economy, to prioritize, above all, the health aspect.
In the case of Spain, R&D investment accounts for 1,24% of its GDP according to the Fundación COTEC. If this data is added that the financing offered by the government to those laboratories that investigate on a counter-clock basis in order to find a vaccine against THECOVID-19 is contingent on loans with the demand for financial guarantees and returns we can see that this R&D policy is small and insufficient, even though lately specific investments have been made in the specific field of health research, led by one of the world’s great epidemiologists and researchers , Dr. Enjuanes and his team.
Leading R&D countries like South Korea, Taiwan, or Japan that invest heavily in robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, or renewable energy have effectively addressed coronavirus. Indeed, they have become the reference countries to combat the spread of the pandemic.
For South Korea, in 2017, it recorded spending 4,55% on its GDP on R&D investments, according to data from the COTEC Foundation. These investments have made significant progress in eight areas of activity – including the biosanitary sector – which would stimulate growth of more than 10% of these activities throughout 2017. According to the newspaper ‘the Korea Herald’, which reflects data from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.This has reported, over the past few years, large gains to South Korean foreign trade, from which one third of its GDP is fed, in addition to causing a rebound in the quality of the labor market.
The economic growth of the Asian country in recent years has indisputable, making it one of the most advanced economies in the world. There is also a great boost from startups, giving much importance to innovation which has placed them as one of the leading countries in entrepreneurship and opportunities for pioneering companies in many areas. As a result, South Korea has a strong research, technology and industry structure, three axes of utmost importance, which has meant that, in the case of coronavirus, it can be combated better than in other parts of the world
Without R&D it is difficult for small, technified and specialized companies to go ahead and therefore local production chains in medical devices, advanced textiles, 3D printing or biofarmacy to be minimal or almost non-existent. A factor that would have helped Italy and Spain with regard to the first lack of specific health equipment to combat the disease and which has benefited countries like Germany that have always opted for a model that supports such companies, As Xavier Ferras – professor at ESADE – explains in one of his articles.
COVID-19 represents a turning point to reflect on an economic landscape that has been changing over the past decade and in which development and research have taken on great value as tools of innovation and knowledge to drive new projects and companies that bring to the market novel and resolute alternatives with which long-term profits are made , not only economic- but also social.This is the case for many countries in the world that are lacking in research and resource development in many fields, and more specifically in the sector we are dealing with, health care, which is so necessary to solve problems, even as unforeseen, as the great pandemic that is raging on the planet.