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 15 September 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. We support the UK Government through our responses to UK parliamentary inquiries and work internationally with other national medical academies through collaborative and joint workshops . We centre patients and the public in our policy work: read our overarching policy principles here.
COVID-19: Winter 2021-22 and beyond
Despite the UK’s successful vaccination programme, a lethal triple mix of COVID-19, influenza, and the respiratory virus Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), could push an already depleted NHS to breaking point this winter unless we act now. The Academy was asked by the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor to again look ahead, forecast the greatest health risks and draw up a plan to help protect the public. Find out more about our new report published July 2021 on our news page and project policy page.
Preparing for a challenging winter 2020-21
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.
In April 2020 we rapidly developed COVID-19 mental health and neuroscience research priorities with MQ, published in The Lancet Psychiatry. Our work was used by NIHR to incentivise mental health research proposals and follow-up work is ongoing. As seen in BBC News, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and more.
Robust, accessible scientific research enables us to know how to tackle this pandemic. In January 2020 we collectively called for rapid open sharing of COVID-19 data in line with our shared 2016 principles on data sharing in public health emergencies. We require grant awardees to make peer-reviewed original research freely publically available. We co-ordinate research funding through the Epidemics Preparedness and Response Group. We previously explored how to rapidly test new vaccines on healthy adult volunteers through controlled human infection model (CHIM) studies, including a 2018 workshop on practical and ethical oversight needed for this research.
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. We reviewed how to improve UK diagnostic testing through a cross-sector roundtable (November 2020). 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 help ensure clear, up-to-date COVID-19 information so people can discuss 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 empowered young adults to discuss COVID-19 through an online graphic story: DIVOC-91. This project, co-created by artists, young people and our medical researchers, brought together people from across three continents to explore key pandemic health and social issues. Find out more and read the full story at www.planetdivoc91.com