The 2022 Science for Society Prize, an initiative of the Science for Society Foundation, under the aegis of Fondation de Luxembourg, has been awarded to the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force, represented by Prof. Paul Wilmes from the University of Luxembourg. The COVID-19 Task Force, a collective effort between several Luxembourg research institutions regrouped under Research Luxembourg, was commended for its key role in coordinating the provision of support from the national research community to healthcare providers and the government while bringing evidence-based research findings to the public’s attention in educational and informative ways.
By providing data on a regular basis throughout the duration of the pandemic, the Task Force helped inform key government decisions, such as launching a large-scale testing programme, and effectively contributed to protecting the most vulnerable whilst keeping society open for others. In addition, the Task Force’s outreach efforts in the form of press conferences and media interviews kept the public informed on the evolving science around the new virus and linked disease.
“The COVID-19 Task Force represents an unprecedented team effort that basically brought together all research actors in Luxembourg overnight,” says Prof. Paul Wilmes, head of the Systems Ecology group at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine and spokesperson of the Task Force, describing its early days: “Given the urgency and uncertainty around the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we had to act quickly. Within a matter of days, we were able to set up work packages in a large range of disciplines, from epidemiology to computational modelling to logistics. I am very grateful for all the colleagues that dropped their own research projects and contributed their expertise to support the country.”
According to the WHO, Luxembourg has placed at the top of European countries with the lowest rate of excess mortality over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, in a report published last year, the OECD credited Luxembourg for its pandemic response, including the creation of the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force at the onset of the crisis.
“We are very grateful to receive the Science in Society Prize for our work during the pandemic,” says Wilmes. “However, the biggest reward is seeing the impact on people’s lives as reflected in the recent WHO data on the low excess mortality due to COVID-19 in Luxembourg. We are very glad that our work could contribute to this.”
The Science for Society Prize applicants are evaluated by an independent jury, made up of members from the research community, politics, the technology sector and the press. The jury is responsible for assessing all applications and submitting a preselection to the foundation’s management committee. The Science for Society Foundation’s management committee selects the winning candidate.
The Science for Society Prize is organised with support from the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), which joined the Science for Society Foundation in awarding the 5.000 EUR prize to Prof. Paul Wilmes, as a representative of the Task Force, during a ceremony on Tuesday.
About the Science for Society Foundation
The Science for Society Foundation was founded in 2014 to support organisations and projects aimed at communicating unbiased scientific information to opinion leaders and the general public. The foundation’s support of projects is led by the belief that a better understanding of science in areas that are important for Society will foster sounder debates and better-informed policy decisions. The Science for Society Foundation created the Science for Society Prize in 2022 to reward effective communication of credible scientific information to the general public.
About the Fondation de Luxembourg
An independent centre of expertise on philanthropy, the Fondation de Luxembourg supports European philanthropists in the structuring, development and monitoring of projects of general interest in Europe and around the world. Created by the Luxembourg State and the Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte, the Fondation de Luxembourg’s mission is to promote and facilitate private philanthropic engagement. For more information on the Fondation de Luxembourg, please visit: www.fdlux.lu
About Research Luxembourg
Research Luxembourg is a joint initiative of the main actors in Luxembourg public research, with the support of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research: Luxembourg Institute of Health, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, University of Luxembourg, Luxinnovation and Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR). At the beginning of the pandemic, Research Luxembourg set up the COVID-19 Task Force (including also the Laboratoire National de Santé) under the coordination of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research in order to offer the health system the combined expertise available within the Luxembourg public research sector.
For more information on Research Luxembourg: www.researchluxembourg.org
Thumbnail & photo © Fondation de Luxembourg