NUIG team leading €10m EU project to prepare for future pandemics

Galway Daily news Major milestone in Galway-led €10m EU pandemic preparedness project

NUI Galway is leading a €10 million EU project to help prepare the European Union to deal with any future pandemics.

The PANDEM-2 Project will develop IT systems and processes for improved EU wide responses and management of critical resources such as hospital beds, PPE and vaccines during pandemics.

The two year project has been awarded €9.7 million by the European Union, and will be led by an NUIG drawing from the disciplines of Medicine and Computer Science.

Other members of the project consortium will include European leaders from the health, security, defence, microbiology, communications, information technology and emergency management fields.

Two other Irish companies are also involved, Carr Communications and Pintail Ltd, and PANDEM-2’s Advisory Board membership includes the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that this investment will help us prepare “at a national and European level” for future pandemics.

This project will “harness the learning from COVID-19” to develop new technologies which will improve the EU’s response to future health crises, the Minister added.

“While we are still facing many challenges with COVID-19, it is critical that we also focus on longer term developments for pandemic preparedness, as this project will. I am delighted that Irish research will be central to this work.”

The European Unions was criticised during the early days of the pandemic for not doing enough to coordinate a unified response to the crisis.

This affected multiple areas, with individual countries left scrambling to secure supplies of PPE in frantic bidding wars with other nations.

The continent was also riven by a hodge podge of disparate travel restrictions as different nations adopted different metrics for judging which countries were and were not safe to travel to.

Professor Máire Connolly, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUIG and project co-ordinator on PANDEM-2 said that along with better technological solutions, the project hopes to improve cross-border collaboration.

“The state-of-the-art tools that will be developed by PANDEM-2 have the potential to transform how Europe prepares for future large-scale healthcare crises through improved analysis of surveillance and contact tracing data, innovative pandemic modelling, better resource allocation and training of pandemic managers using simulations across Europe.”

Prof Jim Duggan, School of Computer Science, College of Science and Engineering added “We are very excited to start working on PANDEM-2.

“Our role within the project builds upon our work from PANDEM which involved research on pandemic response and the development of a resource modelling tool, PANDEM-CAP.”

“This project will aid the development of an IT dashboard that will host pandemic-relevant data from across Europe.”

“This data will enable pandemic managers in capacity building and developing operational strategy for cross border pandemic response so that Europe will be as well positioned as possible for any future pandemic that may arise.”