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NIHR and UKRI funding for Covid-19 research

August 2020: Unprecedented effort by UK immunologists to search for answers on COVID-19

The current coronavirus pandemic is causing significant illness and death. Severe coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) leads to acute lung damage and organ injury, often requiring intensive care admission and prolonged periods of time on a ventilator. As this disease is new, the way that the virus causes organ injury is not understood. It is therefore urgent and vital that the effects of severe Covid-19 are described to rapidly inform clinical management and identify new treatment approaches.

The ICECAP consortium was established as a rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic. By assembling a team of expert clinicians and scientists we are studying key features of fatal Covid-19. Authorised hospital post-mortem examinations of those who have died from Covid-19 provides a unique opportunity to study the whole body in a level of detail that is not possible during life. By collecting and analysing tissue samples collected during post-mortem examinations this will yield crucial information on the presence of the coronavirus in multiple organs in the body, and also understand in greater depth how the body's immune system is responding. This allows us to rapidly answer important clinical questions and help to rapidly inform the evaluation and development of therapeutic interventions for Covid-19.

The study is led by Dr Christopher Lucas at the University of Edinburgh, who said:

We have learned so much from COVID-19 patients during the past six months. However, there is only so much that we can learn from clinical examinations and blood tests.  By having a deeper look at those who have died from COVID-19 through post-mortem examination, we will increase our understanding of what is happening to the body in the most severe cases of this disease. Critically, this will allow us to rapidly answer key clinical questions and help inform the care of patients and the development of new treatments.

Read the full press release on the NIHR website