Future pandemics targeted by new Oxford 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

LONDON — 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 will seek to form partnerships with experts around Britain and in other countries, in hope of avoiding the disjointed policies and international competition that slowed the response to COVID-19.

“The reality is this was a bad pandemic, but it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been,’’ John Bell, the 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 is now going to be apparent to everybody.’’

Oxford hopes to raise 500 million pounds ($710 million) from philanthropists, industry and governments over the next few 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 probably some steps ahead of other universities in America and Europe and so on, in terms of what we’ve contributed.”

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

“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.”

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