Twenty-one new studies into the novel coronavirus have been funded by the UK government, including the first clinical drug trial in primary care, vaccine and therapy development, and studying epidemiology, disease transmission, behavioural interventions and policy approaches to COVID-19.
This second round of projects receive £14.1 million as part of the £24.6 million rapid research response funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and by the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
One of the twenty-one projects is focusing on the mathematical modelling of the coronavirus, led by Dr Anne Presanis at the MRC Biostatistics Unit. With funding for £0.2 million, the project will focus on understanding the severity of the epidemic – such as the proportion of infections that result in hospitalisation or death – Anne and colleagues will use Bayesian statistical models to combine information from multiple datasets emerging from various sources, such as numbers accessing healthcare, numbers of deaths, population surveillance data, and cohort and household studies.
These projects build on the UK’s world-class expertise and capability in global heath and infectious disease that has already shaped our understanding of the pandemic and is informing measures to tackle it. They support the UK government’s efforts to save lives, protect the vulnerable and support the NHS so it can help those who need it the most.
UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “The research community’s response to the Covid-19 crisis has been outstanding. In a matter of weeks, researchers have formed projects to develop potential vaccines, repurpose existing drugs and explore the potential for new medicines, and to examine how the virus is transmitted and causes wide variation in symptoms. Pre-clinical trials of vaccines and clinical trials of drugs are already underway.
“The pace at which this work has been carried out is tribute to the UK’s world-class research base and its dedication to the fight against this disease.”
Jonathan Sheffield, NIHR Covid-19 Research Operations Director, said: “In just a few weeks the UK’s health and science communities have risen to the challenges presented by Covid-19 in deeply inspiring ways. Alongside the selfless work being done by our amazing frontline NHS staff, our world-leading research community is also putting its cutting-edge expertise to use in myriad ways.
“Though the studies announced today may vary in theme, they all represent some of the best and brightest scientific research into Covid-19 being done anywhere in the world.”
The projects will run over a maximum 18-month period, ensuring timely insights into the current epidemic.
This research funding has been coordinated with other funders and the World Health Organization to ensure there is not duplication of effort and expertise is applied strategically.
On 30 March, UKRI and NIHR launched a joint rolling call for researchers to apply for funding for short-term projects addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Full news article and information on the other 21 projects: https://www.ukri.org/news/covid-19-research-boosted-by-new-projects/