Scientists, like the rest of us, have abruptly abandoned their plans in the face of coronavirus. Genetically modified mice have enjoyed a rare break from scientific scrutiny, while new vaccines for everything from lung cancer to malaria are now on hold. The urgency of the pandemic has pushed many institutions to cast aside their established priorities, discarding samples and redirecting manufacturing plants in the rush to reallocate resources. Coronavirus has subsumed their work.
Quartz spoke with four major research institutions in Germany, Nigeria, Israel and the UK to highlight how scientists are pivoting to focus on Covid-19. For some, the switch to coronavirus is obvious: Vaccine-creating immunologists have invaluable knowledge that can be used to fight the disease. Others have put their locked-down labs to good use, repurposing them for coronavirus-related work far outside their usual area of expertise.
All four teams have made huge sacrifices as they’ve redirected their efforts. Dozens of promising studies and treatments were halted on the cusp of completion, and many must wait until after the pandemic to be finalized. The dramatic drop in non-coronavirus research will inevitably slow important discoveries.