The beginning, the journey, and the future of Covid-19 discussed in Oxford by SRUK/CERU

  • SRUK/CERU has organised a one-day symposium in which leading experts have presented complementary perspectives about the Covid-19 crisis to a wide audience.
  • Luis Enjuanes, Isabel Sola, Kyle Pattinson, and Jeremy Brown are some of the several experts that have shared their perspective and experience during this event.
  • This meeting has highlighted the need for multidisciplinary scientific collaboration so we can find better ways to deal with health crises that might arise in the future after considering our experience with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Oxford, May 14th 2022. This Saturday, the Covid-19: the beginning, the journey, and the future symposium has taken place in Oxford. This event has been organised by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK (SRUK/CERU), in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry of the University of Oxford. The symposium has been part of the activities organised by SRUK/CERU to celebrate its X anniversary, and it has been sponsored by the Ramon Areces Foundation, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), and the Biochemical Society. This event has brought together leading experts that have discussed several aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, has resulted in several debates about the beginning of the pandemic, the journey that we have been through during the past years, and the future perspectives with regards to our relationship with Covid-19 and other viral diseases.

SRUK/CERU’s X anniversary coincides with notable changes in our relationship with Covid-19. Both Spain and the UK seem to move toward a scenario similar to the one in which we lived before 2020, without the health and social restrictions that have been part of our daily routines during the past months. SRUK/CERU has organised this interdisciplinary symposium with the aim of bringing science closer to the general public, and of putting the Covid-19 crisis into perspective. In this meeting, renowned scientists and institutions have attended, such as Prof Isabel Sola, co-leader of the Virology Group at CNB (CSIC, Spain); Dr Nerea Irigoyen, group leader of the Virology Group at University of Cambridge; Prof Jeremy Brown, Clinical Scientists at UCL; Prof Luis Enjuanes, leader of the Virology Group at CNB (CSIC, Spain); Prof Kyle Pattinson, University of Oxford; and Dr Maxime Taquet, University of Oxford.

During the first session, Prof Sola and Dr Irigoyen have introduced the public to the mechanisms that explain how coronaviruses work at the molecular level. “The search for broad-spectrum antivirals by modifying cellular targets is essential to prepare for the next pandemic,” Dr Irigoyen has said. In addition, Prof. Sola has emphasised “the fundamental role of basic research to be able to develop new therapies and vaccines”. Once the biological basis to understand coronaviruses had been introduced, Prof Brown has focused on the impact that the SARS-Cov-2 virus has had on our society, from an epidemiological point of view.

Finally, the attendees have had the opportunity to learn about the latest scientific advances in vaccine development, specifically about the nasal vaccine. “We have been able to obtain non-virulent variants of the virus that cannot replicate and that are suitable for its use as vaccines,” Prof Enjuanes has explained. The session has ended with Prof Pattinson and Dr Taquet discussing the potential effects that Covid-19 can have on the brain and on mental health. “COVID-19 is associated with an increased risk of neurological and psychiatric diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, psychotic disorders, brain haemorrhage, and strokes. The risk is generally higher in people who have been hospitalised and even higher in people who have been admitted to an intensive care unit”, Dr Taquet has emphasised.

Fruitful debates have emerged among the more than 50 attendees at this meeting, which have highlighted the extraordinary scientific and technical advances that interdisciplinary scientific collaboration has brought to our society during the last two years. Nevertheless, there is still much to be learned about Covid-19, its side-effects and consequences, and how we need to prepare in case new health crises arise in the future.

Organisers and keynote speakers at the “Covid-19: the beginning, the journey, and the future” symposium, event organised by SRUK/CERU in collaboration with the Chemistry Department of the University of Oxford.
Image credit: © Javier Pardo Díaz (@JaviPardoDiaz).