As the world continues to battle the worst global health crisis for a century, biotech has never been more important, and it has mobilised in unprecedented fashion. The genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was determined and shared around the world before China reported its first casualty, allowing the development of vaccine candidates before the end of January. Pre-clinical testing, clinical trials and securing regulatory approval would normally take 10 years, but the Jenner Institute at Oxford is on track to do it in nine months, by which time manufacturing capabilities will be in place to produce tens of millions of doses. This is possible because of collaboration between academia, the state, and industry on a scale previously known only in wartime. This collaboration is not limited to vaccines. Similar efforts are underway in Covid-19 testing and repurposing of existing drugs, with much work of this work going on at Oxford.
This year we will showcase that collaboration through events with academics, founders, policymakers and others. To promote further collaboration in the future, we will emphasise building connections between our members and with speakers in order to strengthen the Oxford biotech community. We will look at the current pandemic, but also start thinking about the next one, culminating in our Biohackathon in Hilary term on the theme preparing for the next pandemic. We are committed to delivering our events in whatever form necessary, be it through a socially distanced set-up in a seminar room, or over Zoom. We can’t wait to meet you next term, even if it’s through a screen!
Stefan Leape – President
21 May 2020