Project receives funding to help understand effects of COVID-19 – University of Glasgow

MRC, University of Glasgow and CVR logos

The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) is to play a key role in a new scientific project that seeks to better understand COVIDー19 and its impact on the body.

Led by the University of Edinburgh with involvement from colleagues at Imperial College London, University College London, the University of Liverpool, and in Glasgow, the collaborative enterprise has received £4.9million of rapid response government funding.

The investment from The Medical Research Council will kick-start the project, which is part of the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC), an organisation that counts our CVR as a member.

Dr Antonia Ho, Clinical Senior Lecturer at the CVR and Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases, will coordinate recruitment of Scottish patients for the ISARIC 4C project, while the CVR will act as a repository for samples from patients recruited in Scotland and use them to undertake whole genome sequencing of the virus.

Scientists on the project will collect samples and data from 1,300 Covid-19 patients across the United Kingdom, the results of which will provide real-time information about the virus and could help to control the outbreak and improve treatment for patients.

Specifically, researchers will use the data to discover who in the population is at higher risk of severe illness, what is the best way to diagnose the disease, and what happens in patients’ immune systems to help or harm them when they contract Covid-19.

They will also monitor the effects of drugs used in patients, calculate how long people are infectious, investigate if people are infected with other viruses – such as flu – at the same time.

The team has been part of the International Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Consortium (ISARIC) for eight years and includes co-investigators from six UK universities and Public Health England.

Dr Ho said: “This coronavirus is a new virus, to which none of us have prior immunity; therefore, most of the UK population are susceptible.

“It appears to be very infectious, much more so than flu, as evidenced by the high number of healthcare workers infected.

“Working together – academic institutions alongside the NHS – and sharing resources and data is the best way that we can begin to understand and develop strategies against this virus.”

Dr Kenneth Baillie, Academic Consultant in Critical Care Medicine, University of Edinburgh, said: “Covid-19 is completely new disease and presents so many unanswered questions.

“Through analysis of samples from 1,300 people, we can increase our understanding of how Covid-19 makes some people desperately sick. This in turn will help inform how we can best treat the disease.”

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