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Coronavirus developments at a glance—3 April

Calls for more coordinated R&D to fight the virus, as more researchers shut down their normal work

Research Professional News is tracking funding agency responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read our articles on the changes being made by European research agencies and UK biomed and non-biomed funders.


Governments of EU member states are set to be given the option to spend all of their remaining regional cohesion funding for 2020 on the Covid-19 pandemic, potentially resulting in a loss of about €18 billion for innovation or €6bn for R&D more narrowly.

State and philanthropic research funders are failing to coordinate R&D efforts on Covid-19, and this is creating “the overriding problem” in resolving the pandemic, in the view of former European Research Council president Helga Nowotny. European academics, acting independently and as official advisers, have called on EU governments to come together to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 35,000 people across the continent.

The 10 research institutes managed by the KNAW academy of sciences have had to shut down most of their on-site operations because of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving researchers to find alternative ways of working.

Clinical academics at UK universities are being redeployed to the NHS to help fight coronavirus, sparking concerns about the long-term implications for their research. And the health secretary has set out plans to increase coronavirus tests to 100,000 a day in England by the end of the month—with the help of universities, industry and the NHS

It has also been confirmed that the director of the Babraham Institute for life sciences research has died from suspected coronavirus.

In HE news, the government has promised A level results will be “as valid” this year as any other year as the exam watchdog Ofqual outlined how grades will be awarded, but some have warned certain students could miss out. Almost nine out of 10 undergraduate applicants in the UK have not changed their mind about starting university or college this autumn despite the pandemic, a survey has found.

The shadow science minister is leading calls for parliament to go digital during the coronavirus crisis, as MPs demand more scrutiny over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Australia’s universities will face “mass job losses” unless the federal government steps in with a targeted rescue package to help deal with the rapid decline in income from international student enrolments, the National Tertiary Education Union has said. The country’s national science agency has started testing two potential vaccines for Covid-19 at its biosecurity research laboratories in regional Victoria.