The Effect of Viruses: Realities and Studies

Published: 2020-03-31

We at IFS trust that you, your loved ones, colleagues and communities are well and safe during these days and weeks. We are following the request of our health officials for people who can to work remotely so as not to contribute to spreading the virus. This also gives us the flexibility to take care of ourselves and our families, and causes minimum disruption to our work. We continue as before with managing our grants program and relations with reviewers, Scientific Advisory Committees and the Board of Trustees; meet the needs of grantees, applicants and alumni; make plans for capacity-enhancing and mentoring activities; and fulfil our obligations to funders and other strategic partners.

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

Our new IFS strategy for 2021-2030 has the theme of Investing in Future Scientists. This year of 2020 will be one of transition, where we are continuing with elements of the “old” strategy as we begin incorporating parts of the “new”. We are using 2020 to learn and document the experiences of implementing the new strategy, highlighting them in these monthly blog posts. I also invite the IFS family to share any reflections you may have on the transition to our new strategy. 

Given what is happening worldwide with COVID-19, it occurred to me to have a look at virus-related research projects which IFS has funded in recent years. The IFS Vision and Mission speak about IFS contributing to the shaping of local and global research agendas by early career scientists in Low- and Lower-Middle-Income Countries. The present moment – when people around the world are relying ever more on data and information from scientists – is a clear example of the interconnectivity among local, regional, national and global research issues and communities.

Among the grants awarded in 2017-2019 dealing with pathogens of veterinary and public health importance, seven grantees conducted research projects on important trans-boundary viruses in various animal species in different countries. Our grantees are not only contributing to the global knowledge base on how these infections spread among individual animals and among species, on how disease develops, and on how these infections can be treated and controlled through vaccines and/or management strategies. They are also studying the socio-economic and public health consequences that these infections may have on local communities. The project titles below demonstrate the variety of topics:

  • Establishing field data driven universal influenza vaccine platform in poultry: Step towards poverty alleviation and food security in Egypt
  • Mechanisms by which honeybees in Africa (Ethiopia) cope with pathogens and pests
  • Assessment of risk potentials of circulating low pathogenic avian influenza viruses in poultry and poultry-handlers in Ghana
  • Mobility of poultry in relation to avian plagues in Madagascar
  • Understanding the epidemiology and socio-economic impact of African Swine Fever in Rwanda
  • Epidemiology of rotavirus and coronavirus infection in camel calves (Camelus dromedarius) from Tunisia
  • Understanding the epidemiology and economic loss due to Lumpy Skin Disease in selected disease hotspots in Uganda

Such research efforts by IFS grantees are in line with these recent suggestions by Fan Shenggen, Chair Professor at Beijing’s China Agricultural University (, 6 March 2020):

More investment is needed to build an even more resilient food system … from national governments as well as the international community, as enhancing the capacity of developing countries to prevent or contain a food security crisis is a collective effort. In today’s highly interconnected world, contagious diseases such as SARS, Ebola, avian flu and COVID-19 could easily travel across borders. There is also a need to build safeguards for the prevention and control of zoonotic diseases. The international community needs to do more to prevent future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, SARS and avian flu, including regulating meat, seafood and wildlife markets. Many zoonotic diseases originate in wildlife — HIV, Ebola, MERS, SARS, and possibly COVID-19 too, all originated in wildlife and jumped to humans.

With thanks 

Nighisty Ghezae



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