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Covid-19: The impact

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented effect on societies, communities and economies worldwide, and is recognised as both a health and an economic crisis. As of June 2020, there have been more than eight million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 437,000 deaths globally. Billions of people are living under some sort of lockdown quarantine.

Given the scale of damage caused by pandemic outbreaks it is frightening how few governments maintain their own teams of interdisciplinary experts. The community of academics who make up these advisory groups are small, and governments risk becoming over-reliant on a small number of advisors, whose assumptions and approach at a time of crisis significantly shape national policy. The experience of Covid-19 demonstrates that governments everywhere need access to interdisciplinary expertise.

Why the Institute is needed

By establishing an Institute for Global Pandemic Planning, the University of Warwick will combine world-class expertise to develop comprehensive solutions for global leaders struggling to respond to the health, social, economic and psychological impacts of pandemics.

Through the Institute, Warwick will rapidly mobilise an interdisciplinary response group of experts to advise governments. We will also create a robust pipeline of doctoral students to expand worldwide scientific leadership on managing pandemics.


There is an urgent need for epidemiological modellers, public health academics, and thinkers in behavioural science to plan for future pandemics. Warwick is unique in that our researchers are already collaborating across different disciplines on pandemic planning and response. The new Institute will allow us to develop global partnerships and expand the reach of this crucial research.

Mathematical epidemiology

Warwick’s expertise in statistical analysis and mathematical modelling has been crucial to scientific groups advising the UK government. Learn more on the Zeeman Institute website.

Public health

Public health research aims to enhance epidemiological modelling through the inclusion of important aspects of real world outcomes. Learn more on Warwick Medical School’s Health Sciences website.

Behavioural science

Warwick has the largest concentration of behavioural science expertise in Europe and our academics have been visibly and actively involved in public debate concerning policy responses to Covid-19. Learn more on Warwick Business School’s Behavioural Science Group website.


Nick Chater - Professor of Behavioural Science

“Responding effectively to a pandemic requires unprecedented changes in behaviour in line with Public Health predictions and recommendations. However, it is extremely difficult to judge which changes are feasible and sustainable. Behavioural science approaches allow us to explore how we might balance the challenges imposed on different parts of society and on different nations in a way that is perceived to be just. It also has the potential to encourage or nudge people towards making ‘good’ decisions, intuitively and effortlessly.”

Noel McCarthy - Professor of Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Control

“Public health research provides important information about population disease trends and risk factors, providing insights into clinical data and ensuring an understanding of the lived experience of health interventions. The effectiveness of wearing masks in public, for example, is very uncertain, but this intervention is potentially sustainable in the very long term and at trivial cost. In contrast, general social distancing has very predictable effects but is difficult to sustain longer term.”


How philanthropy can help

Philanthropic funding for the Institute for Global Pandemic Planning will create up to five new research-only positions. The posts would dramatically increase Warwick’s capacity to advise governments on their responses to global pandemics and emerging outbreaks. Hosted within Warwick Medical School, these academics would further strengthen Warwick’s expertise in key areas and help us to recruit a new network of international PhD students, to act as ambassadors for our scientific approach and feed key learnings back into their respective countries.

Please donate online or to speak about your gift and the impact it could make, contact Laura Fairbanks: laura.fairbanks@warwick.ac.uk or t: +44(0)7880 175389. Thank you for your support.

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