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Coronavirus developments at a glance: 25-31 July

This week’s coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic from Research Professional News

Focus on: European nations

The majority of Italian universities were able to move classes online within one week following lockdown, according to a survey led by the Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali, a prestigious institute for socio-economic research, based in Rome. And the Dutch government is preparing to greenlight three large-scale research and innovation programmes with money from the yet-to-be established Growth Fund, according to inside sources. Meanwhile Ireland’s government has announced a €168 million support package for higher education institutions that will help cover costs of coping with Covid-19.


The European Commission has praised European governments over their use of EU cohesion funding to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. And the Commission is offering up to €100,000 to set up innovation partnerships that aim to aid the economic recovery of EU regions and industries hit hardest by the pandemic

The European Commission has launched a manifesto for Covid-19 research, asking organisations and individuals—in particular beneficiaries of EU grants—to make their results accessible and usable. The Europe PMC online platform for accessing life-sciences research papers has begun offering access to the full text of Covid-19 preprints—papers that have not yet been peer-reviewed or accepted for full publication. It said it is the first portal to assemble these preprints in this way.

UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research have jointly invested £4.3 million in six projects aimed at explaining and mitigating the disproportionate death rate from Covid-19 among people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The chair of an influential data analytics group has called for urgent access to data from the early stages of the UK Covid-19 epidemic to plan for a potential second wave of infections in winter.

The latest monitoring report for the Universities Superannuation Scheme—seen by Research Professional News—shows that if a valuation snapshot was taken at the end of June the controversial contribution rate to the pension scheme would be 40.1 per cent.

The University and College Union is urging its members to pressure universities to offer more support for staff on fixed-term contracts.

Australia’s state and federal governments should promote the country’s universities as “open for international students” in 2021 as part of a national Covid-19 recovery plan, a Melbourne academic policy think tank has said.

Australia is facing a long-lasting economic crisis as a result of Covid-19 impacts, and universities must prepare graduates for a difficult and uncertain job market, federal education minister Dan Tehan has said.

The annual Science Forum South Africa will not be cancelled because of the coronavirus epidemic, the minister of higher education, science and technology has said.

Despite a global surge of interest in coronaviruses following the discovery of Covid-19 in China, collaborative networks studying these pathogens appear to have shrunk during the pandemic—with a concerning drop in the participation of developing nations.