NEWS24 December 2020

ESRC launches Covid-19 observatories

Behavioural science Covid-19 Data analytics News Trends UK

UK – The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has funded two observatories to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 and accelerate the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.

Crowd of people wearing anti-viral masks

The international public policy observatory (IPPO), which has been awarded ESRC funding of £2m, will give UK policymakers access to resources, evidence and analysis of global policy responses to Covid-19 to help devise strategies to deal with the social, economic and public health impacts of the virus.

The project is a collaboration between University College London, Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Auckland and the University of Oxford, together with think tanks including the International Network for Government Science and academic news publisher The Conversation.

The IPPO has funding for two years, and crowdsource key questions and topics from policymakers and the public to help inform a searchable database of research.

ESRC is also providing a further two years’ funding for a separate project focusing on the economics of the pandemic, following a successful trial.

The Economics Observatory (ECO) was launched in 2020 to provide non-partisan answers to economic questions raised by Covid-19.

The ECO collates research and uses it to publish articles, videos, charts, questions and answers to help the public and policymakers better understand the pandemic.

The funding will help the ECO to expand its work and forge links with universities across the country, expand its use of media including data visualisations, and take part in regional and central discussions on economic policy for pandemic recovery.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, executive chair of the ESRC, said: “These observatories answer a real need, right now. The coronavirus pandemic raises a great many questions and policymakers have to make often unprecedented decisions – some most urgent, others to address the longer-term recovery and wider challenges.

“Evidence is growing rapidly about different approaches, in the UK and globally. The IPPO and ECO will give policymakers vital insights into the research, the knowledge being gained, what options are being trialled and what can work. I believe they will make an invaluable contribution.”