surinenglish

THE BOTTOM LINE

Mariano's vaccine

Mariano Esteban and Juan García are two researchers from the CSIC (Spanish Scientific Research Council) who have developed a Covid vaccine project for the price of a flat in Malaga's smart Limonar neighbourhood. If we go to Marbella we'd need a budget for two Spanish vaccines to buy something decent. This is the cost of scientific research in Spain: the equivalent of a well-off family's mortgage, but no more.

Meanwhile, other countries have invested billions of euros to get to the same place, and only a few months previously. If one retired scientist and 11 others on temporary contracts, can get this far, imagine what we could do if we had some money, government support and, dare I say it, a bit more self esteem and patriotic pride.

In Spain there's a budget for everything, except for what's most important. We spend ridiculous amounts on nonsense schemes; and then we wait in the queue for the multinationals - with the EU as a necessary accomplice - to send us some crumbs when they feel like it, which is, basically, when they haven't got a higher bidder.

If we had backed our own vaccine from the start we would have given priority to the domestic market and we could be vaccinating people at a rate of knots.

Of course, though, then the PP and the PSOE in the regional and central governments would no longer be able to fight over the vials.

At this rate it'll be Christmas before we get our jabs, and that's assuming that no other wealthy country does as Israel did and puts millions on the table to get to the front of the delivery queue.

Every day that passes means more deaths, side effects and ruin, at the bottom of a pit that is getting harder and harder to climb out of and where too many will remain buried forever.

We're still in time to give our researchers a boost so they finish their trials as soon as possible and start to distribute a 100% Spanish vaccine, which, what's more, only needs one jab, and has a simpler formulation. Spanish science has always been a pioneer and grows at critical times such as these.

If all this we're going through now with the coronavirus is going to be at all useful, it is to return researchers to the place they should never have left, after having to go and find other lands where their talent is better valued and recognised.

I'm sure it won't change anything, but Mariano and his team will be able to say they are proud to have faced up to a pandemic with the Quimicefa laboratory.