The UK government announced on 23rd March 2020 that six new research projects focusing on the novel coronavirus will receive a share of the £20 million funding promised by the government.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said:
“Understanding how the human immune system responds to the novel coronavirus is key to developing therapeutics to tackle COVID-19. The projects announced today take different strategic approaches to examining how the immune system’s responses can be harnessed against the SARS-CoV-2 virus – from vaccine development to creating new medicines to repurposing existing drugs. It is the right decision to support research into these different approaches to maximise the likelihood of a quick turnaround in bringing new therapeutics to market.
“The UK leads the world for the quality of our immunology research, with international experts in this field. The British Society for Immunology welcomes this funding announcement from the UK government which will see some of our top research groups lead on this vital, life-saving work.”
Steve Bates OBE, Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association said:
“The UK life sciences sector is moving at speed to help the national and international efforts in combating COVID-19. We have been working hard to mobilise manufacturing capability for COVID-19 therapies and vaccines as they develop and support their rapid scale up.
“Today’s funding announcement shows how government and industry are working together to find solutions to the current pandemic. The UK life sciences sector is also working flat out on innovative emergent ventilator capacity, new ways to support NHS patients at home with digital products and investigating antibody technology for therapeutic use.”
Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said:
“It is excellent to see these awards being announced. Global funding for coronavirus research has been minimal over the last 20 years, even with the SARS and MERS outbreaks providing a warning that further large outbreaks are clearly possible. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was set up to develop new tools and products for high-threat pathogens such as the novel coronavirus, but we need a huge global portfolio covering different types of research.
“This of course includes the development of vaccine, drug and diagnostics, but must also cover clinical, public health and social science research that looks at vulnerable high-risk populations such as the elderly. Future investments into pandemic planning also must be massively expanded, as we have seen how poorly-prepared the world has been for COVID-19. This must include research with the world’s poorest countries, to urgently improve the capacity of their health systems.”
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