arne flåøyen kurt gaasø portrait director

Nordic research collaboration on pandemics

The Nordic region is now launching new initiatives to enhance research collaboration and prepare the region for any future pandemic.

Research to find a cure for COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus, is being conducted all over the world. The new Nordic initiatives are a response to the recommendations issued earlier in the year by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the need for research.

Arne Flåøyen, the Director of NordForsk, explains the role NordForsk will play in this work.

“A great deal of research is already being conducted, most of it directed at the virus - to develop a vaccine and methods of treatment. This is research that can be done anywhere in the world. NordForsk’s niche is research that generates Nordic synergies. With this in mind, we want to support research that can only be conducted in the Nordic region and will benefit our societies. Working together on research will generate results that make us better able to deal with future pandemics and other major crises that hit the Nordic countries in the same way and at the same time.”

Three new research initiatives
NordForsk, a research institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers, is launching three new research initiatives, each of which will shed light on the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of the initiatives will be based on clinical research and focus on issues such as vaccines and methods of treatment, the third will focus on societal security and the Nordic governments’ approaches to contingency planning and crisis management.

Flåøyen thinks that there is much to learn from the way the Nordic countries are dealing with the current pandemic.

“COVID-19 is the biggest crisis that has hit the Nordic countries since World War II. Our societies are under heavy pressure, and we are trying to deal with the situation as well as possible. We usually like to talk about the Nordic region as the most integrated region in the world, but this crisis has shown that it can be difficult to coordinate efforts across national borders,” he says. 

“Each country has its own strategy and its own solutions to COVID-19. From a researcher’s point of view, what we are now observing can be compared with a major experiment in how to try to resolve the same crisis in different ways. Collaborating on research will enable us to learn from one another and better prepare our societies to deal with pandemics that may arise in future," he concludes.

Photographer: Kurt Gaasø