Oxford University is starting an initiative – a new research center that will bring together academic and government specialists from across the world to apply COVID-19 lessons in the defense against future pandemics.
The Pandemic Sciences Centre will bring together Oxford scholars from immunology and public health to technology and social sciences, aiming to increase the quick detection and response to new threats, the university said Friday.
In order to prevent the policies and international competition that hampered the response to COVID-19, the center is planning to form collaborations with scientists from across the U.K. and other nations.
“The reality is this was a bad pandemic, but it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been,” said John Bell, the Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University. “And I think the imperative to get ourselves better organized for a whole range of potential pandemics is now going to be apparent to everybody.”
Oxford experts, who have been researching global infectious infections for years, were at the forefront of creating the COVID-19 vaccine – made by AstraZeneca and is the second to be approved for broad use worldwide.
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Over the next six months, Oxford intends to raise 500 million pounds ($710 million) from benefactors, businesses, and governments to support the center.
“We’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting in the pandemic,” Bell said. “And I think globally we’re probably some steps ahead of other universities in America and Europe and so on, in terms of what we’ve contributed.”
The pandemic, according to Peter Horby, an Oxford professor of emerging infectious diseases and the center’s initial director, has demonstrated that a collaboration of academia, government, and industry may result in extraordinary advancements.
“But it should not take a pandemic to make this happen,’’ he said in the statement. “This level of innovation and multi-sectoral collaboration must be applied, day in and day out, to prevent another catastrophe like Covid-19.”