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Two national academies join fight against Covid-19

An expert mental health group and a call for innovations are among the steps announced

Two national academies in the UK have announced steps to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

On 26 March the Royal Academy of Engineering called on engineering and manufacturing organisations to help boost the supply of ventilators and ventilator components to support the NHS.

In addition, the academy is calling on its fellows, awardees and partners to help accelerate innovations, provide relevant policy advice and establish communications and engagement channels “to share experiences and knowledge with the government and other organisations”.

“The Academy is committed to supporting both the near-term and longer-term response to Covid-19 and to help build resilience against future waves of this or other pandemics,” said Hayaatun Sillem, CEO of the academy. “While there is an immediate need to support ventilator manufacture, we also want to encourage innovation and collaboration across all relevant areas of engineering, including healthcare systems, critical infrastructure, business management and the supply chain.”

Meanwhile, the Academy of Medical Sciences announced on 26 March that it had rapidly convened an expert group with the mental health charity MQ to develop mental health and neuroscience research priorities during the pandemic.

The group is expected to publish research in April in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the academy said.

The academy’s president Robert Lechler and the chief executive of MQ Helen Munn have now written to UK funders and related groups calling for the establishment of a high-level coordination group to ensure “health and neuroscience research priorities are addressed as swiftly as possible” and that a “firm base is established for the necessary long-term studies”.

In addition, the academy is conducting a survey of people with and without lived experience of a mental illness, carers, healthcare professionals and those with a Covid-19 diagnosis to inform its work.