Future pandemics destined for Oxford’s new research center

Oxford University is launching an effort to bring together academic, industry and government experts from around the world to use the lessons learned from COVID-19 in the fight against future pandemics.

The Center for Pandemic Sciences will bring together Oxford researchers in disciplines ranging from immunology and public health to computer science and social sciences in an effort to improve rapid identification and response to emerging threats, he said. ‘university in a statement released Friday.

The center will seek to form partnerships with experts in Britain and other countries, in the hopes of avoiding disjointed policies and international competition that will slow down the response to COVID-19.

“The reality is that this was a terrible pandemic, but there was nothing worse than it could have been,” John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, told the Associated Press. “And I think the imperative to get ourselves better organized for a whole range of potential pandemics now will be apparent to everyone.”

Oxford scientists, who have been studying global infectious diseases for decades, have been at the forefront of developing the COVID-19 vaccine, which is manufactured by AstraZeneca, the second to win authorization for widespread use around the world. . They were also behind research that showed that a cheap, widely available steroid could reduce the death of a third in severely ill patients, and were instrumental in creating the Lighthouse Laboratories used to increase capacity. coronavirus test in Britain.

Oxford hopes to raise £ 500 million ($ 710 million) from philanthropists, industry and governments in the coming months to fund the center.

“We’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting in the pandemic,” Bell said. “And I think globally we’re maybe a few steps ahead of other universities in America and Europe and so on, in terms of what we’ve contributed.”

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases at Oxford and inaugural director of the center, said the pandemic has shown that an alliance of science, the public sector and industry can create spectacular advances.

“But it shouldn’t take a pandemic to make that happen,” he said in the statement. “This level of innovation and multisectoral collaboration must be applied, day after day, to prevent another catastrophe like Covid-19.”

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