In Practice

Research in COVID-19 times: The way forward

M S Pepper, S G Burton


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on research at universities. Universities around the world, including in South Africa, have been or are still closed as part of national lockdown strategies. Students have not been attending classes or doing hands-on experimental work, and students and academics have been working from home. Many thousands of students have had their university education interrupted, and for them, the resumption of learning programmes online, and where possible in research laboratories, is critically important. There is no question that as we emerge from lockdown we will not be entering a world that resembles a ‘norm’ as lived in the pre-COVID-19 era, and many changes will be required. Here we discuss the importance of research, the urgency to get things up and running again, and strategies that will need to be implemented to ensure that research activities continue. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that students and staff are not exposed to risk in their research endeavours, which will require the development and implementation of risk management plans.

Authors' affiliations

M S Pepper, Director, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Director, South African Medical Research Council Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

S G Burton, Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences; Professor, Future Africa, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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COVID-19; Research; Way forward

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(8):756-758. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i8.15053

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-16
Date published: 2020-07-16

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