On 14 May 2020, members of the GYA organised a webinar in Spanish titled “COVID-19 in Latin America, perspectives from young scientists”. This event brought together six Latin American natural scientists – all members of the GYA – to discuss with the general public their perspectives on this crisis.

Moderated by Felix Moronta (International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology ICGEB, Italy), the webinar consisted of two parts. (video available here)

The first part, “Regional context, research and diagnostic of COVID-19”, was opened by Daniel Limonta (University of Alberta, Cuba; min 00:04:00 in the video), who offered updates of the disease and explained the main challenges of public and scientific health infrastructure that the region faces. Sandra Lopez (Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, Panama; min 00:13:33) discussed how this crisis has influenced and reinforced the role of the scientific community in advising decision-making in some of Latin American countries. Sandra also highlighted how young scientists can contribute their expertise in research and innovation. Fernando Valiente (Universidad de Chile; min 00:28:00) talked about coordination at the ministerial level of the different diagnostic initiatives in Chile, as well as the research that his laboratory on virology is carrying out. The first part ended with a Q&A session from the public (min 00:40:08).

The second part of the webinar “Innovations, environment and scientific advice in the context of COVID-19” was opened by Clarissa Rios (Ekpa’palek, EU Science Hub, Peru; min 01:03:24), who brought real examples on how different types of technology such as 3D printing, machine learning, nanotechnology or AI, are being reused to combat different problems related to the pandemic. Alex Godoy (Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile; min 01:19:28) presented the evidence relating to specific improvements in air quality and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions during emergency closings. Alex stated, however, that these specific improvements could not be significant in a global and time scale. The final presentation by Alma Hernandez (Secretary for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mexico; 01:32:02) offered an overview of the science-policy interface. Alma explained how both fields could better understand each other and how this improved understanding could be translated to better policy responses to the pandemic. The second part of the webinar ended with a Q&A session from the public (min 01:43:40).

Of the 132 attendees from 20 countries, 38 attendees answered a survey designed to evaluate the event. Between 84%-92% of the respondents “Agree” or “Totally agree” that the event provided the information they expected to receive, that the dynamics were satisfactory and that they have acquired new knowledge with this webinar. Overall, 100% of respondents rated the event as “Good”, “Very good” or “Excellent”.