Yanis Darras 4:48 p.m., May 16, 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of French scientific research.

Two years after the start of the latter, the CEO of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Gilles Boch, looks back on the positive impact of Covid-19 on research and on the work carried out. 

Is French research down?

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the lack of investment by the French state in scientific research, particularly against diseases.

However, France has an important asset: Inserm, the National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

Invited to the microphone of Europe 1, Gilles Bloch, the CEO of the laboratory, underlines the involvement of the laboratory in research on Covid-19, from the start of the pandemic.

Repositioning of molecules

“We were lucky to have a team that had learned for several years about other emerging epidemics, but of lesser magnitude, such as the Zika or Ebola epidemic which had less affected France. And so we had the habit of hot launching research in response to its epidemics", underlines the director general.

And to add: "As of February, we launched several dozen projects. And the State took over with significant funding."

Essential funding for the public establishment, of which two-thirds of its budget comes from the State, and which has enabled Inserm to participate in certain advances, such as "for example, the proper use of corticosteroids in the treatment acute of Covid-19".

“We also participated in molecule repositioning studies, since at the beginning there was not enough time to develop specific molecules. We thus repositioned existing molecules, and we eliminated the bad leads”, emphasizes Gilles Boch. 

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Better communication

But the coronavirus will have positive impacts on scientific research, judges the CEO of Inserm: "We were able to prove that the time factor could be considerably reduced. And then, we learned the hard way about the importance of coordination more efficient research, especially in times of crisis. This is how we were able to create a new funding agency within Inserm, which is called 'Emerging Infectious Diseases', dedicated solely to infectious diseases that emerge every year around the world".  

While Gilles Boch is pleased with the improved collaboration between different scientific entities, he also wishes to highlight the effort of the State, which has made "more additional resources available to us and which make it possible to speed up time, to accelerate research in these areas".

And to add: "Everything is going well today at Inserm. We have a very lively dynamism in our laboratories, we are irrigated by many partners. We do not work alone since we work with universities , other organizations, hospitals. And the State trusts us, by giving us the means within the framework of the research programming law", he explains at the microphone of Europe 1.