Dr Paul McKay looks down a microscope

Imperial staff, students and alumni are working round-the-clock to combat COVID-19. In November 2021, Imperial was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our response to the COVID-19 pandemic - the highest national honour awarded in UK further and higher education. The College was also recognised as University of the Year 2022 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for an excellent student experience and our leadership in responding to the pandemic.

Research/Society/Response fund columns

Professor Robin Shattock and a colleague working in the lab with face visors on


Imperial's COVID-19 Response Team has been advising and influencing governments around the world, helping policymakers and healthcare planners to shape their COVID-19 strategies.  

Imperial brought together teams to analyse risk factors for COVID-19 and to develop new treatmentstests and vaccine technologies. Work included trialling a unique vaccine approach that could revolutionise the way vaccines are producedThe College also launched a landmark human challenge study with its partners, to help understand the course of disease in those with mild infections and to investigate the natural history of infection.

Imperial leads one of the world’s largest COVID-19 community surveillance studies – the REACT study – which tracks infection across England through regular testing of the population.

man at desk with electrical equipment


Imperial has significantly increased its investment in learning and teaching, including developing a world-class hybrid education experience.  

Teaching staff came up with innovative approaches to virtual learning, such as virtual field trips and labs-in-a-box. The former allowed students to travel the world in search of scientific discovery, while not having to breach lockdown rules. The latter resulted in students receiving miniaturised experiments mailed to their doorstep, meaning they could continue to learn from home.

Many of Imperial’s departments have switched to a revolutionary new remote assessment format and have accommodated a range of different living situations when doing so, meaning students have been able to demonstrate their knowledge from afar. 

Imperial students delivering food to NHS staff


We converted labs for NHS COVID-19 testing, including one able to handle 1,500 samples per day. Two hundred and eighty final year medical students joined the NHS frontline months early. We handed over scores of PCR machines for NHS emergency use. Our students provided hundreds of free meals to NHS workers. Imperial conducted monthly sampling on the London tube and bus network to analyse for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

We shared our expertise in science, technology, engineering and medicine education, including in COVID-19, with teachers and school pupils via a series of free online materials ideal for those home-schooling during the crisis, and via the world’s most popular free online Coursera course, taught by our academics.

woman in lab coat working in lab

Community Jameel Imperial College COVID-19 Excellence Fund

The Community Jameel Imperial College COVID-19 Excellence Fund was launched in June 2020 to provide support for research projects into the impact, understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19. This Excellence Fund will fund awards between £50,000 and £200,000 for novel and essential high impact research projects that need additional funding to be scaled up.

Imperial College COVID-19 Response Fund

The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Fund supplements government and existing philanthropy to provide flexible support for vital projects in our unprecedented efforts to tackle COVID-19, such as developing vaccines, improving diagnostics, advancing therapies, strengthening epidemiology and providing essential healthcare in the urgent race to defeat the novel coronavirus. A groundswell of support from alumni and friends means the fund is already backing researchers.