Universities and businesses in the North-west have benefited from over £550 million of government funding to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic over the last 12 months, including vaccine research by Macclesfield-based AstraZeneca.
The UK’s largest public funder of research and development, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has supported Covid-19 research with a £554 million investment. Over 3,600 projects nationwide have secured funding. In the North-west, money has supported the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine programme, treatments for the disease as well as projects to understand the pandemic’s impact.
Elsewhere in Cheshire, a team of engineers and scientists are developing an affordable and easy-to-use ventilator to help patients in low- and middle-income countries suffering from severe respiratory problems due to COVID-19. The project, which is co-ordinated by UKRI’s Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, aims to create a ventilator that does not rely so heavily on compressed gases and mains electricity supply, major limitations of using current ventilators in many places.
Research teams from the North-west’s biggest universities have also received significant UKRI funding to better understand COVID-19. The University of Manchester is leading an international coalition to use mass spectrometry techniques to understand how the disease presents in patients. In order to provide information at a molecular level about the virus, 500 scientists are refining testing approaches and treatment options, as well as speeding up the development of new treatments.
Researchers from the University of Salford are conducting a major study into the benefits system as it copes with an unprecedented wave of applications for Universal Credit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The evidence should help policy makers and practitioners to develop rapid solutions.
Professor Charlotte Deane, COVID-19-Response Director at UKRI said:
Looking back over the past year, it’s clear that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on so many aspects of our lives, but I take more than a glimmer of hope from the extraordinary work being undertaken by researchers and businesses across the UK. These projects are just the tip of the iceberg. They show the tenacity and creativity of our research and innovation communities in the North West and beyond, who have stepped up in the most challenging of times to come together and fight back against this devastating disease.”