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

Building a European Partnership for pandemic preparedness:

The new European project BE READY focuses on improving the capacity of the EU so that it is prepared and can respond to emerging infectious diseases that form a worldwide threat.

The aim of the project is to create a European Partnership for pandemic preparedness by using the One Health approach via the European research and innovation space.

The BE READY project lays the foundation for the future European Partnership Pandemic Preparedness, including preparing the European Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for pandemic preparedness. In addition, it will coordinate the establishment of the secretariat that will help to develop partnerships between the European Commission and interested partners.

On behalf of the Netherlands, ZonMw and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment are members of BE READY. This consortium of 17 countries is preparing an EU partnership for pandemic preparedness. Within the preparation group, ZonMw is involved in the drawing up of a monitoring and evaluation framework for the partnership and the development of the SRIA. The partnership will start in 2024. ZonMw is also represented in the Network Steering Committee.


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]
Suzanne Verver
Senior programmamanager
pandemicpreparedness [at]
Linda van Nierop
Senior programmamanager
pandemicpreparedness [at]