Life scientists are one of the most prominent players in the world’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, it is undeniable that they are facing a handful of challenges.
Whether you are a seasoned or aspiring scientist, it would be best to be wary of these challenges. That way, you will know how to get past these hurdles.
On that note, here are six critical challenges that life scientists face during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Decreased working hours
A surprising effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on our life scientists’ lives would be the decreased number of working hours.
Around 55% of life scientists declared that their number of working hours reduced during this time. Although the number of working hours has diminished, it doesn’t mean that everything is fine and dandy.
For some life scientists, the hours they devoted to research reduced as well. In other cases, researchers have also reported that they spent more time working than before.
However, the case changes depending on the field or discipline of each scientist. The reduced number of working hours can be a side effect of the other challenges that life scientists face during the pandemic.
According to Life Science expert Michelle Dipp, another challenge that scientists face is institute closures.
What this means for many life scientists is that it changes their work patterns by a lot. A lot of experiments will be on hold due to these work restrictions.
Aside from that, the lack of equipment when working from home will hinder work. When life scientists come back to their institutes, their experiments will require more funding to make up for the time and progress lost.
However, the effects of institute closures aren’t equal to all life scientists. Wet lab scientists suffer more from the loss of progress than dry lab scientists.
Surprisingly, this challenge results in scientists being creative in connecting with their fellows worldwide. This includes the use of video conferencing for collaborating with other scientists.
For one, video conferencing is one of the most convenient means of communication at the moment. It also allows life scientists to connect with other experts despite travel restrictions.
Hence, we can only hope that this practice will take effect even after the pandemic is over.
Speed and desirability of clinical trials
Given the intense demand for a vaccine against COVID-19, scientists worldwide are working towards one goal than before. However, this pressure to get a vaccine or be the first to deliver it has its downsides.
One of those is the pressure to skip crucial steps in clinical trials.
As scientists, the corporate, personal, or monetary gain shouldn’t influence clinical trials. Otherwise, the results of these trials will no longer be scientific.
That’s why, when pursuing COVID-19 related research, make sure that you go through all the trials. This means not skipping the necessary tests to ensure the validity and effectiveness of the vaccine.
The “invisible enemy”
Life scientists often have to contend with many public phraseologies that mention COVID-19.
Phrases like the “invisible enemy” make the virus seem less like a medical issue and more metaphysical. Thus, life scientists have to make sure that people’s perceptions remain grounded in scientific facts and realities.
Knowing that the virus operates in the same realities makes it more plausible to overcome it. And it will be made possible through scientific knowledge and technology.
Risk of being infected
Of course, life scientists are also prone to getting infected, especially when there is a need to go out and get supplies. Although social distancing and other precautionary measures can help prevent infection, there’s still that lingering risk.
Personal living conditions
As with any employees, life scientists have to deal with their personal living conditions. This is despite the current demand brought by the pandemic.
The distractions that come with working from home will be a real hurdle in being productive. With children staying at home, it can make parents split their attention between work and filial duties.
This could mean reduced working time for scientists who happened to be parents as well. If not, they may find it challenging to be productive while working at home.
Aside from that, the general lack of lab equipment and the clinical environment at home will be a struggle for life scientists right now.
On the other hand, it is possible that some scientists haven’t seen their families for months. And such conditions can degrade motivation.
The challenges listed above make it difficult to work as a life scientist. But much like everyone else, life scientists will learn to adapt and persevere despite these hurdles. After all, their work is more important now.
Luckily, there are available innovations that they can leverage now. A great example would be video conferencing tools. Such tools allow them to collaborate with other scientists despite travel restrictions.
Plus, more publications are being released to help fight against the pandemic. This is while complying with the new restrictions on our day-to-day lives.