UK International Coronavirus Network (UK-ICN)


The UK International Coronavirus Network (UK-ICN) is a four-year project (Oct 2021 – Oct 2025), funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)




We Have the Power to Impact Our Future, and We’re Doing Something About It

The UK-ICN is an initiative funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) United Kingdom to promote collaborative scientific research on coronaviruses with the aim to enhance networking and collaboration, improve pandemic preparedness and response strategies for future coronavirus outbreaks, and sustain long-term One Health approaches.

UK-ICN is a network project created to support global coordination for the delivery of collaborative scientific research and sustained long-term one health approach to better investigation of coronaviruses, improved surveillance, and social policies.

A Letter from the Board

Animal coronaviruses cause a very significant disease burden and great economic loss in many countries. Over the years there have been various strategies developed to control them, including specific vaccination strategies, diagnostics and improved farm biosecurity, but they remain a problem. Furthermore, in the last two decades we have seen the emergence of three coronaviruses with devastating effects on human health – the most recent, SARS-CoV-2, has caused a global pandemic that has killed over 2 million people so far, destroyed livelihoods and caused a degree of upheaval not seen since World War 2. The three pathogenic human coronaviruses all spilled over from animal hosts and probably originated from bats, entering the human population through the food chain.

Establishing a broad-based international network on coronaviruses centred in a research-intensive country like the UK will ensure that lessons in coronavirus control and treatment can be rapidly interchanged between the global research community interested in animal and human coronaviruses.

Promoting discussion in this broad area and having fora for the exchange of ideas is vital; our network will provide these. In addition, travel restrictions during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have curtailed networking opportunities for the junior scientists who will be the leaders of the future. Part of the goal of this network is to facilitate these individuals finding their own partnerships to ensure that coronavirus research is firmly embedded in the scientific and policy agenda. As the spread of human and animal coronaviruses illustrates, coronaviruses (and other infectious diseases) do not respect political borders and nation states and therefore a network on coronaviruses has to encompass not only UK scientists but be international in reach as well.

Julian Hiscox
UK-ICN Director

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