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Responding to COVID-19: Our approach

We’re working closely as a University community and in partnership with health and social care agencies to ensure our staff, students and the people of Northern Ireland are as protected as much as possible during this crisis.

"The incredible united effort by the Queen’s community in response to COVID 19 demonstrates our commitment to delivering positive impact on society.  We are enormously  proud of the collective strength and determination to make a difference to those who need it most."
Professor Stuart Elborn, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences.

WATCH: A video message from our Chancellor, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the Queen's community.

Advancing knowledge on COVID-19

Our Major Incident Team are meeting regularly to ensure that the wellbeing of our staff and students is maintained. In line with advice from the UK Government, we have transitioned to a working from home model where possible and all forms of face-to-face teaching have ceased until further notice. 

“While the pandemic has been a harrowing experience for us all, it has also united us as a community. It is only by working together that we can preserve the health, wellbeing and social fabric of our society,” says Professor Mark Lawler, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor from Queen’s Faculty of Medicine Health and Life Sciences.  

We continue to support our staff and students with up-to-the-minute online advice and our website serves as a valuable resource for information on COVID-19 research and related activities here at Queen’s.

“We are providing a distinctive forum for authoritative discourse and debate on the challenges that we face and how Queen’s researchers are responding to these challenges for the benefit of society.” 

As we advance our knowledge of the global challenges presented by COVID-19, we will keep you updated on how Queen’s is:

Stepping up to our social responsibility

“We recognise how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the very fabric of how we function as a society,” says Professor Lawler. “Recognising this new reality, our research expertise in domains including health and life sciences, secure connected intelligence, economic, legal, ethical, psychological and social sciences is being brought to bear to help deliver robust solutions for the one of the greatest challenges that this planet has faced in the last 100 years. 

“Queen’s is stepping up to its social responsibility to provide as much support and help as we can to our community here in Northern Ireland.”

We will be keeping you informed on: 

  • Ways in which we are accelerating the training of students so that they are adequately prepared to enter the workforce.
  • How we are providing facilities, equipment and reagents to support our colleagues in the Public Health Agency and in our hospitals.
  • How we are harnessing our collective expertise and mobilising it wherever it might be most helpful across our community.

Protecting our communities

We continue to work with the Public Health Agency, the Health and Social Care Trusts and many other stakeholders to help delay the spread of this infection and mitigate the consequences. “We want to ensure that people in Northern Ireland have the right facilities to have the diagnosis made, where appropriate, and to have the right treatment,” says Professor Elborn.

Our Public Health team, led by Professor Frank Kee, are conducting social modelling to capture the complex interaction between disease occurrence and social responses to provide insights that may help policy makers response to the pandemic.

“Our Public Health team are doing some modelling on how we might manage the situation in terms of the whole population,” says Professor Elborn. “They are moving some of their academic activity to help support Public Health interventions that will help us manage the consequences of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland and these islands.”

Additionally, we have a world-class virology team at Queen’s working closely with Public Health agencies on the biology of the SARS-CoV2 virus. They are now applying their expertise to helping with understanding COVID-19, consulting with leading coronavirus experts in the University of Iowa and at the National Biotech Centre’s Coronavirus Lab in Madrid.

“We are shifting our research to see if we can make a contribution to helping us understand why this virus is so easily spread, how it causes the damage, particularly to older people with multimorbidity, and to explore ways in which this viral infection might be treated better either through a medication or, more long-term, through a vaccination,” says Professor Elborn.

Collaborating to support students

Queen’s will continue to look at what is the best way to help our students to progress in their courses using online opportunities for lectures and tutorials. We will be working flexibly to ensure we have staff that can deliver the teaching remotely.

"Across the sector in the Universities, we are working with colleagues across this island to ensure we are working in a collaborative way to ensure all students are supported at this time,” says Professor Elborn.

“We as a University have an important part to play in ensuring that our students and our staff are going with the guidelines that have been issued. We will be working very closely with the Public Health Agency and Social Care Trusts to make sure that we are working together as a community to look after everybody in the country.”

Professor Lawler adds:

"From repurposing existing drugs as potential anti-viral therapeutics, to developing ethical and legal frameworks to underpin societal decision making; from providing simulation environments to best prepare students for the rigours of frontline healthcare, to 3D printing of face masks to protect our healthcare workers, Queen’s is playing its part locally, nationally and globally in the fight against COVID-19.