University of Edinburgh experts to join ‘rapid response’ to coronavirus

Experts from the University of Edinburgh have secured £5m in funding to join the government’s ‘rapid response’ to the coronavirus pandemic.

Researchers are set to collect data and samples of Covid-19 in a bid to increase the understanding of the disease and its impact on the body.

The results will provide real-time information about the virus and could help to control the outbreak and improve treatment for patients.

Specifically, researchers will use the data to discover who in the population is at higher risk of severe illness, what is the best way to diagnose the disease.

They will also probe what happens in patients’ immune systems to help or harm them when they contract Covid-19.

The team will also monitor the effects of drugs used in patients, calculate how long people are infectious, investigate if people are infected with other viruses – such as flu – at the same time.

Dr Kenneth Baillie, Academic Consultant in Critical Care Medicine, University of Edinburgh, said: “Covid-19 is completely new disease and presents so many unanswered questions. Through analysis of samples from 1,300 people, we can increase our understanding of how Covid-19 makes some people desperately sick. This in turn will help inform how we can best treat the disease.”

Dr Kenneth Baillie has secured funding from the Medical Research Council to work in partnership with Professor Peter Openshaw from Imperial College London and Professor Calum Semple from the University of Liverpool.

The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) will also play a role in this project, undertaking whole genome sequence of the virus from samples. Dr Antonia Ho from CVR will coordinate recruitment of Scottish patients.

The team has been part of the International Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Consortium (ISARIC) for eight years and includes co-investigators from six UK universities and Public Health England.