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Thomas Ashton Institute for Risk and Regulatory Research

Colleagues from the Institute present work at first PROTECT COVID-19 Conference on transmission and environment

26 November 2021

On 17-18 November 2021, around 100 researchers from across the PROTECT COVID-19 National Core Study on transmission and environment came together in person for the programme’s first conference.

The University of Manchester hosted the PROTECT conference on 17 and 18 November.  PROTECT is one of the National Core Studies funded directly by UK Government, and aims to investigate risk of transmission of COVID-19 in various environments, such as the workplace.  PROTECT started in October 2020 and is delivered by a large interdisciplinary team from a range of organisations, led by the Health and Safety Executive.  This was the first opportunity for colleagues to meet face-to-face to discuss the various areas of work that around modelling, measurement, human behaviour, implementation of risk mitigation measures, virology and outbreak investigations.

Day one provided an important opportunity for PROTECT researchers to exchange knowledge and ideas with colleagues from other projects, explore opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration, and discuss innovative research responses to the ongoing challenge of understanding and controlling transmission of the COVID-19 virus as the UK unlocks.  

On day two, researchers benefited from the opportunity to present to and engage directly with policymakers and stakeholders to further develop their understanding of the challenges of managing virus transmission in current real-world scenarios, helping to ensure their research remains relevant, useful and impactful. Meanwhile, those stakeholders gained a greater understanding of how to apply the science to their own policy and operational challenges.

Professor Andrew Curran, Chief Scientific Adviser from the Health and Safety Executive, and Co-Director of the Thomas Ashton Institute for Risk and Regulatory Research, was chair of the opening plenary session "Evidence needs for controlling virus transmission, from this pandemic to the next.!"

Martie van Tongeren, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health, and Health Theme lead for the Institute leads Theme 3 - Sector Specific Studies, Whilst Professor Neil Bourne, Co-Director of the Institute leads the project team for Keeping the UK Building Safely.

Dr Anne Clayson gave a presentation on work around analyses of COVID-19 outbreak data in the UK.  Professor Sheena Johnson and Dr Cath Lewis presented findings around contributing factors and mitigation strategies for areas with enduring COVID-19 prevalence, and Dr Sarah Beale and Dr Sarah Rhodes gave a presentation on occupational risk of COVID-19 virus transmission.

The day two plenary sessions were livestreamed for the benefit of all interested parties, including researchers, policymakers, businesses, and the broader public.  Catch-up by watching all the recorded sessions on our YouTube channel.

You can read more about the conference on the PROTECT National Core study website.

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