The Director of The Wellcome Trust spoke at a University of Liverpool ‘Science and Society’ public lecture this week.
Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar’s thought-provoking analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic and its wider societal impact called for for greater investment in the science that will ultimately change the fundamentals of the infection. “Until we change the fundamentals there is no exit from the pandemic,” he said.
He outlined a need for long term investment in public health to enable the UK and other countries to better respond to future crises, given that epidemics are becoming more frequent and more complex.
“You cannot turn on public health, health systems, trusts, partnerships or institutions when you might need them. They need investment over years – in people, infrastructure and sharing ideas. It is investment over years that provides the resilience when a crisis comes,” he said.
Professor Sir Jeremy also discussed the lessons society can learn from 2020, a year which has highlighted societal inequalities. This included the benefits of a more flexible approach to work, and how a global shift away from nationalism towards international partnerships would help society address the great challenges of the 21st century.
You can watch a recording of the lecture here:
The University’s inter-faculty Science and Society lectures, established in 2010, reflect upon the inter-dependencies of science and society and are part of the university’s efforts in communicating the impact of science.
The Wellcome Trust is a politically and financially independent global charitable foundation that exists to improve health by helping big ideas to thrive.
Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar is a clinician scientist who before joining Wellcome was, for eighteen years, Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Viet Nam, where his research interests were in infectious diseases and global health with a focus on emerging infections. He was named 12th in the Fortune list of 50 World’s Greatest Leaders in 2015.
Jeremy was appointed OBE in 2005, awarded the Memorial Medal and Ho Chi Minh City Medal from the Government of Viet Nam and honoured by the Royal College of Physicians UK and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2018 he was awarded the President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award.