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Coronavirus developments at a glance—20 May

EU and UK research grants, changes to university studies, job redundancies in Australia—and more

From the archive: The ongoing concerns over how scientific evidence underpins government policies in infectious disease emergencies goes back at least to the time when David King was chief scientist in the early 2000s, during the foot and mouth disease epidemic. In this 2005 interview King talks about the “spin and secrecy” of science advice.


The financing plan EU leaders are working on to support the bloc’s economic recovery from Covid-19 must make substantial use of grants rather than loans to support R&D organisations, a representative body has warned.

EU research heads are calling on citizens to provide input into the research and innovation funding aspects of the bloc’s planned Green Deal package of policies for environmentally sustainable economic growth post-Covid-19.

Scientists must be as open as possible with their Covid-19 research in order to prevent government blame-shifting, the shadow science minister has said

The UK’s national research funder is seeing “an extremely high level of interest” in the Covid-19 rapid-response research call it launched on 31 March—but so far it has funded only 49 of the 999 applications received.

The government must ensure that the whole of the UK research base, not just universities, is protected from the effects of Covid-19, according to a campaign group letter to the science minister on 19 May. The government has launched its previously announced £500 million scheme to provide grants and loans to high-growth companies during the coronavirus pandemic.

The University of Bolton is planning protective screens, full-length temperature scanners and a bike loan scheme to make sure students can come to campus in September, while the University of Cambridge has confirmed that all lectures will be online in 2020-21. The number of students who are now likely to defer going to university this autumn even if institutions are operating as usual is 13.3 per cent, according to a survey—up from 5 to 6 per cent in normal years—and this rises to 28 per cent if universities are “not operating normally” by the start of term.

The proposed two-year post-study work visa should be made official immediately to entice international students to the UK during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russell Group has said

Australia and New Zealand
Queensland’s largest regional university is to lose 182 jobs to voluntary redundancies and close three of its rural campuses following a $116 million loss caused by the impact of Covid-19 travel restrictions on international student enrolments.

The overwhelming demand for telehealth services during the Covid-19 crisis suggests they must become part of reforms to the country’s health system, the Australian Medical Association has said.

A survey of New Zealand employees during the Covid-19 lockdown has found that women have a different and more effective style of leadership than men when dealing with staff concerns about workplace changes.