Top HKU microbiologist calls for more science funding

Top microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung says progress here in developing a nasal spray vaccine against Covid-19 has been extremely slow due to insufficient investment.

Speaking on RTHK’s Chinese-language radio programme “Hong Kong Letter on Saturday”, the University of Hong Kong academic said his team had made the seeds for the spray two years ago but that more money was needed to take things forward.

“What frustrates people is that our Hong Kong Academy of Sciences lacks regular funding from the government,” he said.

“If the government hopes to turn Hong Kong into an international science and research centre, or ‘the Silicon Valley of the Greater Bay Area’, it must provide regular funding to support the continued development and operations of the Academy of Sciences.”

With Hong Kong now possibly facing another community Covid outbreak, Yuen also called on authorities to improve ventilation requirements for places such as schools and restaurants. He also called for a comprehensive reform of contact tracing, which he described as “very backward”.

The professor said looking back over the past two years, the key to a successful anti-epidemic campaign was winning people’s trust.

But he said, with Covid being a new disease, experts had initially had diverse or even contradictory views about the virus. He said this had even resulted in cyber-bullying against some experts because society was so polarised.