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, behavioral 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).
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.
Among them is the project led by Professor Matthew Snape from the Oxford Vaccine Group, awarded £0.6 million. With Public Health England, the researchers will use an existing study of infectious disease immunity in children and teenagers 0 to 19 years old to study the presence of antibodies against COVID-19 (a marker of having had the disease and now having immunity) in approximately 400 children and teenagers per month for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, and they will collect information on recent respiratory illnesses and relevant medical history.
UK Research and Innovation 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.'
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 (WHO) 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.