CIMR Research in Focus 2: Reflecting on the COVID-19 Pandemic

This week in London, two people from different households can legally meet indoors for the first time since October 2020. Monday 17 May marked another milestone in the easing of lockdown restrictions across the UK, bringing us one step closer to being able to return to academic life as we knew it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left no area of life untouched and has transformed the way we have engaged with our community over the past year. We have had to quickly adapt to a new mode of knowledge exchange and everyday concepts are now a source of additional anxiety, as Professor Grazia Ietto-Gillies writes in this article on distances.

Key events in the calendar such as the annual Bloomsbury Festival moved online and our regular programme of virtual Debates and Workshops in Public Policy has enabled us to reach out to colleagues and attendees all over the world.

While we have enjoyed expanding our community beyond College walls, we are very much looking forward to the opportunities to reunite with friends, family and our academic community that the vaccine rollout brings.

The vaccine in itself is a contentious issue, as we explored in our discussion on the role of public research in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine with Essex Business School. Professor Suma Athreye, who presented at the event, puts forward a persuasive case that knowledge transfer from public science is the unsung hero of the COVID-19 vaccine success. Our first discussion on this issue was so rich that it prompted us to arrange a second, this time exploring vaccine nationalism and the role of supranational organisations in global vaccine production and delivery.

While, in the UK at least, the pressure on our health service from the pandemic is gradually easing off, there are understandable concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on patients suffering with other serious health conditions, such as cancer.

We hope that you in our community are safe and well, and to see you in person or virtually someday soon.