A few months ago, we gave a grant of £25,000 to a groundbreaking research project, the COVIDsortium study. This study was the first internationally to collect serial longitudinal data to understand patterns of infection and immune responses to the Covid-19 virus.
Despite the challenges of working during the pandemic when many labs were closed and equipment difficult to access, the research team managed to recruit 730 study participants, all of whom were health workers at one of three London hospitals: St Bart’s, the Nightingale London and the Royal Free. Over 16 weeks these hospital staff, of various ages and ethnic backgrounds, provided weekly blood samples and nasal swabs, a total of 7000 nasal swabs and 20,000 bottles of blood collectively. This allowed researchers to gather data from them before, during and after infection with Covid-19, if participants were to contract the virus. Crucially the team was able to collect data from those who were infected but showed no symptoms.
Many questions remain around Covid-19 including around genetic influences on the immune response to infection and to disease severity. To investigate these and other important questions relating to the virus, the COVIDsortium samples have been divided to produce over 200,000 samples which can be distributed to research groups across the country including Public Health England, University of Oxford and Imperial College London. For more information on the design and findings of the research, click here.