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How Africa’s Growing Research Capacity is Aiding the COVID-19 Pandemic Response

A decade of investments in science preparedness is helping the continent mobilize expertise and resources

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested national emergency preparedness and emphasized the contributions of locally based researchers. According to Sharon Fonn, co-director of the Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) and a professor at the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, long-term investments in research capacity building, which enables science preparedness, is paying off in the fight against the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Fonn looked to the activities of the African Research Coalition for Health, an umbrella network of 11 African-led consortia largely funded by the DELTAS-Scheme of the African Academy of Science, to gauge local research response to the pandemic. 

“When COVID-19 reached Africa, the consortia were able to rapidly deploy and redirect their expertise, research resources, infrastructures, and links with health agencies to support the response,” Fonn and her co-author Sam Kinyanjui write in The Conversation, an online publication supported by the Corporation.

While Fonn and Kinyanjui note that more work needs to be done to fill gaps in Africa’s science preparedness, they point out that the pandemic is an opportunity for African governments as a whole  to “seriously reflect on their efforts to build science capacity.”

Read Fonn’s full article in The Conversation.