Alla Myronenko

Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Virologist

Sep 16, 2020

Ukraine needs government programs to support scientists

Alla Petrivna, how do you think, does Ukraine have sufficient scientific potential in the terms of global science development?

In order to unlock the potential which is undoubtedly great, government programs to support scientists are desperately needed in Ukraine, especially for development of applied science which needs modern equipment, reagents etc. However the positive changes are observed. The project to award grants to scientists on a competitive basis was launched In Ukraine. We hope that now the innovation implementation will be possible not only abroad.

But this takes time. Let’s consider the Faculty of Biotechnology opened in Kyiv Polytechnic Institute as an example. The students have an opportunity to implement certain innovations in food industry. However insofar as the healthcare area is concerned (vaccines manufacturing or development of diagnostic drugs), it is not yet developed enough in our country, so we need to buy necessary products abroad.

Does this means that future is in biotechnology?

You are right. Such areas as virology, molecular biology, cell technology, genetics are extremely vital today. The treatment which is based on individual approach to each person and takes into account genetic predispositions to particular diseases is becoming the global trend.

You have been working on study of studies for more than 40 years. What do you think as an recognized specialist about the new danger nowadays – coronavirus? What information is known about it?

It is of animal origin because its genome is 96% identical to that of coronavirus which is found in bats. Its similarity to the virus which caused SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 is 80%. However its clinical picture was clear, as compared to the current virus. It often causes the disease without any symptoms or with mild progression. Moreover, it has an extremely long incubation period: from a week or two, and even more. So, I suppose that we will hardly be able to get rid of the disease in the nearest future. However, we can hope that the animal virus will adapt to the human body and reduce its aggressiveness because it needs to live too.

Is the suggestion that high temperatures kill coronavirus true? Is the new coronavirus outbreak possible in the autumn when it becomes cold?

In summer SARS agents do not survive due to the sunlight. Instead, intestinal infections caused by enteroviruses via water are traditionally spread. But people who spend more time outdoors in summer are more affected by weather than viruses, because this is a vacation period. In the autumn, when schoolchildren, students and workers return from holidays, a new outbreak is likely to happen. The second wave can be stronger: few people had enough time to develop immunity against new virus because of strict quarantine during the first wave.

Is personal protective equipment really effective and how long should we use it?

Probably, they will become our constant accessories for several upcoming years. If masks are used properly they serve as a barrier for droplets and consequently reduce virus spread. It is not required to wear them outdoors all the time, but they are needed in shops, pharmacies, vehicles and other public places.


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