By Ali Imran
ISLAMABAD: COVID-19 has so far claimed over 10,000 lives worldwide. The virus is also spreading in Pakistan, having so far infected over 600 people. However, two of the most badly affected countries by COVID-19 are China and Iran, which are both neighboring countries of Pakistan. These two countries are also members of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) ‘“ an inter-governmental organization of 27 developing countries based in Islamabad, striving to promote South-South cooperation in the fields of science and technology.
During these times of trial and tribulation, the Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. S. M. Junaid Zaidi approached through letters to COMSATS’ focal ministries in China and Iran, expressing sympathies to those afflicted with the disease, and pledged to stand with the people and governments of the two countries. He stated that the global outbreak has strengthened COMSATS’ resolve for channeling the scientific research and development towards understanding the phenomenon and enhancing capacities of the Member States to deal with such threats. He thanked the authorities of the two countries for taking effective measures for combating and containing the virus.
In response, Chinese Minister for Science and Technology Wang Zhigang, thanked the Executive Director COMSATS for his letter expressing support to the Chinese government in the fight against COVID-19 outbreak. He informed that the Chinese government has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures to contain the outbreak, and as a result of united efforts, the situation is now turning for the better. He stated that China will continue to work with other stakeholders to build an effective response against the epidemic and uphold regional and global public health security, harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation. The Minister stated that as a member of COMSATS, China has strengthened cooperation with other members for the sharing of human and technological resources. In this regard, two Chinese centres that are affiliated with COMSATS as Centres of Excellence, the International Center for Climate and Environment Sciences (ICCES) and the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology (TIB), have played a key role. The Minister also looked forward to COMSATS’ participation in China’s Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Action Plan.
At the same time, the Iranian Minister for Science, Research and Technology, Mansour Gholami also thanked the Executive Director COMSATS for his letter, and informed that Iran has taken all necessary measures to combat the disease. From the platform of COMSATS, the Minister offered to collaborate with other member countries for finding solutions to such treats. The Iranian Research Organization for Science & Technology (IROST), affiliated with COMSATS as a Centre of Excellence, has been actively participating in the programmes and activities of COMSATS.
China and Iran are active members of COMSATS and have been collaborating in terms of organizing joint capacity building events, offering postgraduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and executing joint research and development projects.