Liverpool, Others Launch Forward-Looking Pandemic Research Initiatives

September 14, 2021

By Allison Proffitt

September 14, 2021 | Yesterday the University of Liverpool and other partners launched the Pandemic Institute, a medical, academic and civic partnership aiming to accelerate the global response to pandemics, unify global intelligence, and increase the reach and impact of pandemic research.

The Pandemic Institute is a collaboration between the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Knowledge Quarter (KQ) Liverpool with initial funding from Innova Medical Group. The partners have a breadth of world-class clinical, academic, public health and data-driven expertise, all co-located on one campus.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Liverpool has pioneered innovative approaches including a whole city community testing pilot which cut transmission rates by a fifth, as well as hosting large-scale pilot events on behalf of the government that provided evidence of how to safely reopen important sectors of the economy. This track record positions the Liverpool institutions to help the world respond at pace in the race to prepare for the next pandemic.

Initial funding for the Pandemic Institute came as a £10 million gift from Innova Medical Group, a global health innovator and the world’s largest provider of rapid antigen tests. This first funding will enable the Pandemic Institute to offer world-leading clinical and research expertise across all stages of the pandemic lifecycle, working to deliver new science and build preparedness for future pandemics. The outputs of its work will be rapidly translated into tangible policy, solutions, and activity, ensuring real world impact for governments, businesses and individuals across the globe.

In a press release, Professor Matthew Baylis, Director of the Pandemic Institute, said: “The Pandemic Institute has the potential to help revolutionize how the world responds to pandemics. Uniquely, it will take a holistic view, from looking at future threats through to the response of communities and the healthcare system as well as treatments such as medicines and vaccines.”   

He also expressed appreciation to Innova for the generous gift in support of the Pandemic Institute.

Daniel Elliott, CEO and President of Innova Medical Group, commented, “We are passionate about supporting organizations that will make a difference and it is clear now that pandemics are the biggest threat to the health of the world’s population, and that is why we are excited to support Liverpool’s partners with the Pandemic Institute, which has the potential to save lives and improve health outcomes for communities across the globe."

Forward-Thinking Initiatives

Liverpool isn’t the only spot thinking ahead to future pandemics and how we can be better prepared.

Also this year the University of Oxford launched a center of global research collaboration and excellence, the Pandemic Sciences Centre. Its mission is to ensure that the world is better equipped to create global, and equitable science-driven solutions to prepare for, identify, and counter future pandemic threats. The new center will also build on the strong and unique collaborations developed in record time across national borders between academia, industry and public health bodies during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The University of Washington has also announced the United World Antiviral Research Network, or UWARN, that will bring together researchers from institutions in several countries to spot and confront emerging pandemic viruses.

The network will include investigators from the University of Washington, including its School of Medicine, the UW Medicine Institute of Protein Design, and the School of Public Health; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and collaborators at Rockefeller University in New York City, FIOCRUZ in Brazil, IRESSEF in Senegal, KRISP in South Africa, Aga Khan University in Pakistan) and Chang Gung University in Taiwan.

UWARN leadership is focused on surveillance for emerging pandemic viruses, developing urgently needed diagnostics and therapeutics, and expanding understanding of viral immune responses, which is key to vaccine development.

In every case, the focus is on prevention. And as one of the goals of the Liverpool Pandemic Institute states: to build critical mass of expertise and develop a pipeline of future leaders in pandemic and infection control. Worthy goals that are sure to prove useful next time.