In February 2020, the Bloomsbury SET was invited to take part in an event in London to explore 3 years of the UK Vaccine Network, and where it would go next.
The session, organised by DHSC, KTN and UKRI showcased some of the progress from directly funded projects to date, and included panel discussions with some enabling organisations, including the Bloomsbury SET and our friends at IVVN.
A packed agenda made strong effort to include the various facets of developing vaccies, from manufacturing and regulation, through to collaboration and getting a product to market. A keynote form Dr Chris Witty, highlighted the current Covid-19 outbreak, and how vaccines, and this UK Network, are so important.
Mike Whelan from CEPI further echoed the value of preparedness, and creating platform technologies that could potentially provide future-proof in subsequent novel outbreak situations.
The meeting was very proactive in ensuring that all parties involved in vaccine development, and the ecosystem were represented. Complementary talks from both MHRA and the VMD were a great addition, and there were event some metioned to the value of animal disease.
The afternoon concluded with a session discussing the various types of effective collaboration, which included a double hit from our LSHTM colleagues including a great talk from LSHTM anthropologist, and Chrissy Roberts talking about the value of an emergency data system for evaluation and trials.
As the Bloomsbury SET also tried to connect both hard science and social science to meet it’s goals, it was reassuring to see others from the social sciences and humanities being included in this type of event. So often the focus is all on technological push from labs in universities and businesses, that the human element of delivery of vaccines is not always included, so it was great to hear from Shelley about how you should engage with communities in clinical trial design.
The time taken to develop a new vaccine is not news for the community, but by providing networking and interdisciplinary collaborative opportunities such as the UK Vaccine Network, and even the Bloomsbury SET, it does take us closer to being able to provide a more rapid response in times of biological crisis.
Find out more about some of these initiatives:
Other KTN events https://ktn-uk.co.uk/events
Emma Tomlinson, Head of Research Development at the Royal Veterinary College.