SciLifeLab has been commissioned by the Swedish government to support important societal functions in coordinated improvement of laboratory preparedness during possible coming pandemics. The aim is to strengthen Sweden’s preparedness in the event of a new pandemic or other crisis that requires national laboratory coordination.
In December 2020, SciLifeLab was commissioned by the government to ensure increased national coordination of laboratory capacity in order to stand well prepared for possible future pandemics. Within the framework of the grant, SEK 40 million will be allocated for 2021, and thereafter SEK 30 million annually during 2022 through 2024 is earmarked for the investment in laboratory support in future pandemics. The first phase of the initiative is now launched after consultation with scientists at the Public Health Agency of Sweden.
The purpose is to support and supplement important societal functions such as authorities, municipalities and regions in the effort to strengthen laboratory preparedness. This is accomplished through research, competence and technological development. There is a need for strengthened technological units for molecular analysis such as sequencing, genetic analysis and immunological methods, as well as a demand to advance how data is made available, and to increase the capacity to analyse big data.
“The Covid-19 experience has made the demand for a rapid and coordinated shift of laboratory capacities during a pandemic painstakingly clear. At SciLifeLab, we can contribute with laboratory capacity. Furthermore, we have the expertise to coordinate a national effort toward laboratory preparedness, and to provide support to responsible authorities in the event of a future pandemic”, says Olli Kallioniemi, Professor and Director of SciLifeLab.
SciLifeLab has invited researchers and organizations to propose a letter of intent for initiatives aiming to create a robust system to increase Sweden’s laboratory preparedness. The proposals have been reviewed by SciLifeLab’s management team and external evaluators and have been discussed with the Swedish Public Health Agency. Proposals that are granted funding will form the foundation for a network within SciLifeLab for laboratory support in the event of an impending pandemic, or other crisis that demand a rapid and coordinated shift of laboratory operations. During the period up to 2024, further opportunities will be proposed for initiatives within the framework of program and the network within SciLifeLab will be expanded.
“We want to strengthen our national units for molecular analyses and invest in increasing the accessibility and analysis capacity for big data. The Pandemic Laboratory Preparedness program will create a network for pandemic laboratory preparedness integrated in SciLifeLab’s units and it will be a way to meet society’s need for efficient resource utilization and coordination of skills and equipment in laboratories”, says Staffan Svärd, Professor and Scientific Director at SciLifeLab.
Selected laboratory capabilities in the initial network:
• Rapid establishment of comprehensive laboratory pandemic preparedness – RAPID-SE
• Systems-level immunomonitoring to unravel immune response to a novel pathogen,
• Genomic Pandemic Preparedness Portfolio (G3P) – Nationally scalable genomics portfolio for detection and surveillance of viral outbreaks
• BSL3 Biomedicum-SciLifeLab collaborative platform
• Pandemic sample center to build up readiness to connect SciLifeLab infrastructure and university hospitals
• Multiplex and high-throughput multi-disease serology
• ZSC – National core unit for Pandemic Preparedness
• Establishment of the Swedish Environmental Epidemiology Center (SEEC)