The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has today published a report on its inquiry into the Ebola epidemic, quoting evidence submitted by the British Society for Immunology.
The report, while recognising the extraordinary efforts of made by those organisations and individuals involved in responding to the outbreak, highlights what it calls “structural weaknesses” in the UK’s capacity to withstand infectious disease threats. These include the long-term failure to invest in interventions against rare emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases.
In our written evidence to the Committee we noted that “the UK lacks a truly effective and co-ordinated platform for the research, development and manufacturing of new vaccines and treatments against novel or emerging disease threats”. The Science Committee acknowledges this and has urged the Government to begin rectifying the situation through the development of a new infectious diseases strategy to co-ordinate action in this area.
BSI President, Professor Peter Openshaw says: “We are pleased that the report responds to and highlights the concerns expressed by the BSI about the UK’s preparedness for dangerous and unpredictable emerging diseases, such as Ebola, MERS and Zika virus.
The report acknowledges that the UK is world-leading in immunological research. Investment in fundamental and applied immunology is vital to provide the flexibility that we need to respond to be unpredictable by ramping up the development of vaccines and novel therapeutics. We have to be ready, to invest in an excellent research base and constantly train new people in relevant areas.
By building a co-ordinated platform of public and private investment in vaccinology and studies of host defence, we will capitalise on and build our internationally recognised research strengths and ensure that the UK maintains its resilience against these global threats.”
Click here to read our submitted evidence to the Science and Technology Committee.