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NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science

The NC3Rs and the 3Rs during COVID-19

Practical resources to ensure that the 3Rs are considered and kept a priority when services are disrupted.


Since 2020, COVID has caused significant disruption to life and research globally. The NC3Rs continues to operate to support researchers and animal care staff with their 3Rs initiatives.

Below you'll find information on our activities relating to the pandemic, and practical resources to ensure that the 3Rs are considered and kept a priority through lockdowns and other disruptions.

Advice for researchers and animal care staff

For researchers around the world who would like advice on the 3Rs, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Whether you are an NC3Rs grant holder, potential applicant or otherwise, our expert team can review information provided by email or have a virtual meeting with you.

Animal care staff around the world work tirelessly to care for research animals and continue to go the extra mile.  We're here to support you with practical 3Rs advice, best accessed through our 3Rs resource library, selecting the Technician / Vet filter under the Audience category. 

If you have any queries, please email to be put in touch with the right NC3Rs staff member or team.

Embedding the 3Rs in COVID-19 return to research plans

When returning to work following periods of lockdown, keeping the 3Rs a priority remains crucial. We have produced guidance on key considerations and resources for researchers returning to working with laboratory animals, categorised into four equally important areas.


Infographic showing some of the considerations for embedding the 3Rs in a return to research. 1. Considering alternatives to animal use. 2. Prioritising and planning experiments. 3. Training and competency. 4. Sourcing and breeding of animals.

Breeding and colony management

Many researchers returning to work after lockdowns are faced with the challenge of needing to rapidly breed experimental cohorts from reduced stock or to finish experiments started prior to lockdown. Working with an expert group of researchers and colony managers, we have produced guidance on how to re-commence experiments after a pause with an emphasis on minimising the number of mice used.

Practical resources

For anyone working in a laboratory setting, we have practical information on a wide range of topics to help you continue to do good science by keeping the 3Rs a priority. These include:

You can also view recordings of past NC3Rs webinars, covering a variety of 3Rs topics, or check our calendar for upcoming online learning opportunities.

COVID-19 research

Our peer review and advice service is continuing to review proposals from 28 funding organisations, including many proposals for COVID-19 research. Read more about this service and check out our tips for applicants for advice on preparing your application for this process.

Working with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), we have published guidance for refining vaccine studies using non-human primates, especially those performed under biocontainment.

We have established a working group with the US National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) and other agencies to coordinate global efforts to use microphysiological systems (organ on-a-chip and other complex multicellular in vitro models) to reduce reliance on in vivo studies of COVID-19.

Assistance for NC3Rs grant holders

We are managing both the potential and realised impacts on our organisation as well as on our grant holders and continue to put in place plans to mitigate for these as effectively as we can.

We are doing our best to continue with business-critical activities and in supporting our grant holders to do the same, including through applying no-cost extensions on a case-by-case basis.

Our grant holders are encouraged to email with any queries, and a member of the funding team will respond as soon as possible.