Gaining insights into COVID immunity
Back in 2020, at the very start of the pandemic, we gave a grant to the COVIDsortium research programme which is made up of doctors and researchers from Barts Health, University College London, and Queen Mary University London. Our funding was used to collect and analyse blood samples and health data from 500 frontline healthcare workers. These samples were used to create a ‘biorepository’ of information for researchers across the UK to answer questions about COVID-19 and how it’s acquired and transmitted.
As the pandemic progressed, COVIDsortium began to focus on questions of COVID immunity. The scientists were keen to find out how long immunity lasts, whether this is different for individuals, different for new variants and, if immunity is waning, what vaccine should be used to boost it?
- COVIDsortium has published 20 scientific papers, which have been covered in more than 1,000 media articles.
- The outcomes from COVIDsortium research were discussed by Anthony Fauci at a White House press conference.
- Barts Health serves a population of 2.9 million people in London and Essex.
Taking the research further
In 2021, we awarded another grant of £49,400 to Barts Charity so the COVIDsortium could take some further samples – over the summer, early Autumn and pre and post any booster vaccinations to answer specific questions around immunity, Covid variants, and the choice and timing of booster vaccinations. Our grant funded the analysis of the ‘T-cell signature’ of 190 blood samples. The findings from this research can be used to inform national strategy on vaccines and boosters.