Pandemic preparedness

Pandemic preparedness means that we are well prepared for future pandemics as a consequence of outbreaks of microorganisms. This requires a good collaboration between all sectors, including the medical, economic, ecological, social and societal sectors.

What does ZonMw do in the area of preparedness for a COVID-19 pandemic?

We increase knowledge and experience concerning pandemic preparedness. This underpins measures for policy, education and (healthcare) practice with regard to the prevention, postponement and control/management of pandemics to thus maintain public health and enhance the functioning of society.

We do this by:

  • Identifying knowledge gaps based on existing knowledge about themes such as viruses, zoonoses, climate and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including lessons learned from the programme COVID-19, and from influenza;
  • Commissioning research into the improvement of pandemic preparedness, including intersectoral collaboration and sustainable knowledge infrastructures;
  • Connecting and aligning with stakeholders and users;
  • Implementing knowledge to support policy recommendations, legislation and implementation in practice.

Important starting points for this are a One-Health approach, Mega-data approach and implementation in practice.

What is already happening in the field of pandemic preparedness?

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, ZonMw works on possibilities to use the knowledge from studies to contribute to solutions in combating and preventing future pandemics and the effects of these on society.

This happens in the area of:

But there are more programmes that generate research results that contribute to prevention, preparedness and response so that the effects of an outbreak remain as limited as possible.

What is needed for the future?

Sustainable policies are needed that encourage multidisciplinary collaborations and investments for long-term efforts. This requires intersectoral collaborations at both the national and international level. International partnerships need to be formed to collaborate on global solutions. One aspect of this is exchanging information and sharing data to increase the implementation of knowledge.

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Different programmes for pandemic preparedness

Regulatory Pandemic Preparedness

During a new pandemic, patients need to receive an effective treatment quickly so that the harm to both the patient and society remains limited. However, the development, testing and marketing of new treatments is a long process that is subject to many different laws and regulations: the regulatory system.

To make new and effective treatments more quickly available during a next pandemic, ZonMw is starting the subprogramme Regulatory Pandemic Preparedness within the programme Pandemic Preparedness. In this subprogramme, we collect knowledge to realise solutions for this legislation. For instance, that could be by evaluating the current regulatory system and by investigating and developing possible new routes to bring therapies to the market. The research focusses on the contribution of these solutions to accelerating the availability of new therapies.

CSA Partnership Pandemic Preparedness

ZonMw is – together with RIVM – on behalf of the Netherlands a member of BE READY, a consortium of 17 countries that prepares a European partnership for pandemic preparedness for the 2022-2025 time period. The partnership itself will start in 2025. The European project BE READY focuses on improving the capacity of the EU so it is prepared and can respond to emerging infectious diseases that form a global threat. The partnership is being developed from the One Health approach.

BE READY also develops, next to a secretariat and a governance structure for the partnerships, a European Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for pandemic preparedness.

Within the consortium ZonMw is involved in formulating a monitoring and evaluation framework of the partnership and developing the SRIA. ZonMw is also represented in the BE READY Network Steering Committee. 

A gap analysis – including an infographic – can be found on the BE READY website. This analysis offers the gaps, challenges, priorities and strategies for pandemic preparedness and research and innovation. BE READY prepared an observatory with country profiles for all countries involved containing amongst other things the national infrastructure during pandemics. The country profile for the Netherlands has been constructed in collaboration with ZonMw, the ministry of Health and RIVM. Any additions or corrections can be e-mailed to


ZonMw is a member of GLoPID-R, a worldwide collaboration between researchers and research funding bodies in the area of preparedness for the outbreak of infectious diseases. Via workgroups, gaps and overlaps are identified to ensure that investments in priority research areas are balanced and coordinated, with the emphasis on institutions with fewer resources. The work of GLoPID-R is aimed at supporting R&D to generate knowledge and solutions that will save lives.

Remain informed?


Fábio Serafim

pandemicpreparedness [at]

Linda van Nierop

Senior programmamanager
pandemicpreparedness [at]

Lisa Faries

pandemicpreparedness [at]