Wednesday 20 May, 2 – 4pm

SAQN worked with UKIEG and AQN UK to convene an online workshop, bringing together air quality, virology, aerosol, meteorology, climate, health and built environment researchers to determine the current state of knowledge on the possible interactions between air quality and COVID-19, ambient environmental conditions indoors and out, establish evidence gaps and make recommendations for a necessary rapid response and longer term research agenda.

A report from the event will be published in due course. Register as a network member for free to be notified when the report is published.

The purpose of this event was twofold:

  1.  to convene the UK-based research community to establish state of knowledge on the role of air quality (indoors and out) on COVID-19 and implications for management of air quality during a global pandemic
  2. To assist the research community in coordinating priority action to address critical knowledge gaps.

The meeting was held on Wednesday 20 May, 2-4pm. Those unable to attend the live event were able to register and participate at any time during the following week.

This event was open to any researchers in industry, policy, third sector or academia, particularly those based in the UK or affiliated with a UK research network.

The STFC Air Quality Network (SAQN) brings together industry, policy and academia to access the range of capabilities of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Opportunities to apply these capabilities to the current pandemic might include:

  • porting vastly enlarged datasets into existing pandemic models;
  • testing pandemic modelling against concurrent risks including but not limited to flooding, heatwaves and air pollution events;
  • running data analytics to create predictive empirical models from real-world data;
  • bringing new perspectives to existing modelling strategies.

The predominant focus for this meeting was on UK air quality and application of international research to UK settings. In convening the community, we plan to map and devise how the UK research community can build on, and contribute to, international evidence and efforts. The event highlighted UK funds available to support UK-led action in those areas. A list of relevant funding calls for this area is being maintained by SAQN.


14:00 Part 1: Welcome and Context

Chair: Dr Marcella Ucci, UCL and the UKIEG secretary

UKRI Clean Air Champions

Professor Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton

Professor Martin Williams, Head of Science Policy and Epidemiology team at King’s College London and former Head of the Air Quality programme at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Dr Jenny Baverstock, Senior Collaboration Fellow at the University of Southampton.

Brief summary of CV-19 context in the UK

Professor Catherine  Noakes, University of Leeds

Sani Dimitroulopoulou, PHE

Professor Alistair Lewis, Defra Air Quality Expert Group

Dr Mike Holland, Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants COVID Group

Scenarios to be considered – pandemic & concurrent risks

Dr Matthew Hort, Head Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Quality, and SPF Clean Air Lead, Met Office

14:45 Part 2: State of knowledge

Present state of evidence and knowledge

Key knowledge gaps:

  • Lockdown period
  • Recovery
  • Longer-term pandemic management including incidence of resurgence

Most critical knowledge gaps

15:20 Part 3: Research Community Action

Ideas for research action to tackle the most critical gaps

Lessons to be learned for air quality and communicable and non-communicable diseases research

15:55 Summary and next steps

16:00 Meeting closes