As we adapt to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to support the UK's best medical and health researchers and ensure their voices are included in the important decision-making ahead.
[Page last updated 19 April 2021]
Our policy work on preparedness, testing, vaccines and more informs key decisions in the UK and around the world.
How we work
Academy Fellows like Professor Chris Whitty FMedSci and Sir Patrick Vallance FMedSci are leading the UK scientific response to COVID-19, while our office uses previous reports and live consultation to respond to related UK parliamentary inquiries. We ensure that patients and the public are at the heart of our policy work, even when working at speed. Internationally, we compare COVID-19 responses through collaborative and joint workshops with other national medical academies. Read the principles behind all our policy work here.
UK testing and preparedness
In July 2020 we rapidly reviewed how the UK must prepare for a challenging winter, with COVID-19 alongside a backlog of people needing NHS help and the possibility of a flu epidemic. As seen in BBC News, Financial Times, The Guardian and more. We later reviewed how to improve diagnostic testing through a cross-sector roundtable (November 2020).
In April 2020 we rapidly developed COVID-19 mental health and neuroscience research priorities with MQ, published in The Lancet Psychiatry. NIHR used our work to incentivise research proposals and our 'six months on' statement re-emphasised the value of mental health research. Find out about our ongoing policy follow-up work here and read our blog with the Foundation of Science and Technology here. As seen in BBC News, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and more.
We reviewed key COVID-19 immunology questions with the British Society for Immunology (May 2020), and our expert group for this project grew into the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium. Our open-access drug development database is helping scientists prioritise preclinical drug research.
Research and clinical trials
Robust scientific research is key to understanding and effectively tackling infectious disease outbreaks. We ensure scientific data is shared rapidly and openly. We joined organisations around the world to call for effective sharing of COVID-19 data in January 2020 in line with the 2016 principles on data sharing in public health emergencies. We require all our grant awardees to make their peer-reviewed, original research publications freely publically available under our commitment to open access. We are also co-ordinating research funding through the Epidemics Preparedness and Response Group. We previously explored how to rapidly test new vaccines through controlled human infection model studies with healthy adult volunteers, including a 2018 workshop on practical and ethical oversight for these important controlled human infection model studies.
Our broader COVID-19 policy work includes: a review of our COVID-19 work (July 2020); supporting work on ethical frameworks for asymptomatic testing of staff in workplaces and students in higher education institutions (March 2021); exploring the use of neuraminidase inhibitors in influenza; a pandemic influenza report (2005), and 2007 pandemic influenza follow-up work.
We are committed to ensuring people have clear, up-to-date information on COVID-19 to inform the ongoing debate of what that science means for our society.
Our Press Office is working directly the Science Media Centre to ensure journalists can access the UK's best medical and health experts. Our President and Vice-Presidents are providing expert comment in national and international media alongside ongoing response statements to key developments.
We are empowering young adults to discuss the pandemic through an online graphic story: DIVOC-91. This project is co-created by artists, young people and medical researchers, including our Fellows and grant awardees to explore key medical and social issues raised by the pandemic.