NUI Galway has been awarded almost €10 million funding by the EU as part of a major new European project on pandemic preparedness and response. The project, PANDEM-2, will see the university lead the way in developing new concepts, services, and IT systems to improve how the EU prepares for and responds to future pandemics.
This two-year project will develop systems to enable the EU to simulate future pandemics, which in turn will enable the training of pandemic managers both in the EU and in member states. PANDEM-2 tools will also allow for improved planning and management of critical resources such as hospital beds, PPE, and vaccines.
Population growth, international air travel, and environmental factors increasing the likelihood of diseases crossing from animals to humans, are likely to lead to future pandemics, and the PANDEM-2 aims to ensure EU countries are ready to respond.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted areas where there is room for improvement in this response, and the project will also improve on these areas, such as analysis of real time data, sharing information across borders, and common and consistent policies across the EU.
The project will develop IT systems to enable pandemic managers to prepare for a wide variety of different pandemic scenarios and possible responses. PANDEM-2 technologies will also enable improved pan-European planning and management of critical resources including hospital beds, PPE and vaccines. This will position Europe to respond coherently and effectively to the next pandemic, whenever it comes and whatever form it takes.
Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, this week welcomed the announcement. “I would like to congratulate and thank NUI Galway for their leadership of this project, which will seek to harness the learning from Covid-19 in the development of a range of innovative technologies to further support and improve the European Union’s preparedness and response to future pandemics,” he said. “While we are still facing many challenges with Covid-19, it is critical that we also focus on longer term developments for pandemic preparedness, as this project will. I am delighted that Irish research will be central to this work.”
The project consortium, led by NUI Galway, brings together European leaders in health, security, defence, microbiology, communications, information technology, and emergency management fields, ensuring that the most modern science serves the real-world needs of healthcare, government, and society.
The consortium includes two other Irish companies, Carr Communications and Pintail Ltd. PANDEM-2’s advisory board includes the World Health Organisation and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Professor Máire Connolly, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway and coordinator of the PANDEM-2 Project, said: “Covid-19 has had devastating economic, social, and health impacts on countries worldwide. The PANDEM-2 Project aims to better prepare EU member states for future pandemics through innovations in technology, training, and cross-border collaboration.
“The state-of-the-art tools that will be developed by PANDEM-2 have the potential to transform how Europe prepares for future large-scale healthcare crises through improved analysis of surveillance and contact tracing data, innovative pandemic modelling, better resource allocation and training of pandemic managers using simulations across Europe.”