Science policy advisers aim to learn pandemic response lessons

Scientific advisor network starts collating examples of research influencing, and failing to influence, policy
As policymakers focus on the immediate horror of the Covid-19 pandemic, an alliance of science diplomats has begun compiling intelligence from the crisis to help avert future catastrophes.  
The International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) has launched a “landing pad” for information and resources about “the science and policy interface” of the epidemic.


“The aim of this site is not to weigh in on the epidemiological issues of the virus or the validity of certain containment measures over others,” INGSA explained. “The focus will be on mechanisms to enable the effective utilisation of evidence into policy and practice – what was done well, what was done poorly, and what were the outcomes and lessons.”

INGSA chairman Sir Peter Gluckman, former chief science adviser to the New Zealand government, said that as the pandemic lurched towards a “potentially horrific crescendo” in many countries, leaders were naturally dealing with the immediate crisis. “But it would be a terrible mistake if attention is not given now, and progressively, to the long-term matters that this epidemic will throw into sharp focus,” he continued.

“Both for the immediate and particularly for the longer term – including future pandemics and other crises – it will be important to understand and learn from [the] varied interactions…between science, experts, society, policymaking and politics.

“For example, while on a very different time course, climate change shows many of the same issues – the conflicts between science, policy, vested interests and politics and a tendency to think that addressing it can wait.”

INGSA has issued a call for resources – including links, blogs, academic papers, videos and online panels or webinars – that demonstrate how research has influenced or failed to influence policy and society.

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