Major Support Package Unveiled For UK Research Jobs

Those working in research-active universities around the UK that have been affected by the pandemic can now take advantage of two major new support packages to help them take their own steps towards making efficiencies and protecting research bases.

Universities will also be able to access long-term low-interest loans, supplemented by government grants, to cover up to 80 per cent of losses in income caused by any actual fall in international students.

And support is now available to fund research and high priority packages such as medical research to help universities continue to be at the forefront of innovation.

Approximately £200 million in new investment is to be made available immediately to help support salaries and costs including laboratory equipment and fieldwork. This should mean that universities are about to retain research talent and protect projects around the country.

Some of the projects benefiting from this investment already include research into antibiotics resistance, the development of new technologies to tackle climate change, solutions tackling the waste caused by plastics manufacturing and usage, and work looking into the effect of the pandemic on wider society.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “The brilliance of our talented researchers and scientists has been absolutely critical not only to our medical response to coronavirus but also as we begin to emerge from this pandemic and support the UK’s economic recovery.

“The support we are putting in place will give our world-leading universities a lifeline by protecting jobs to ensure our best minds can continue discovering new innovations that will benefit us all for generations to come.”

Researchers are currently working on finding a vaccine for coronavirus – and a team at Imperial College London has just launched human trials of one potential vaccine candidate, with over £41 million in funding from the government and an additional £5 million in philanthropic donations.

This is the first test of a new self-amplifying RNA technology, which could revolutionise the development of vaccines and enable scientists to improve responses to emerging diseases.

The study will see 300 healthy participants given two doses of the vaccine and, if it proves to be safe and shows promising human immune responses, Phase III trials can then begin later in the year, with approximately 6,000 volunteers testing the vaccine.

Professor Robin Shattock from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial explained that new technologies mean researchers can move with “unprecedented speed” on potential vaccines and in just a few months, the team has been able to come up with a candidate, something that has never been done before with this kind of vaccine.

He went on to say that if this approach is successful and the vaccine is effective, it could change responses to disease outbreaks in the future.

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