COVID-19 study seeks to understand virus impact

Monday 23rd March 2020, 5:00pm

Dr Kenneth Baillie, a researcher at The Roslin Institute, is leading a study to examine the effect of coronavirus infection.

Scientist testing samples - credit The Roslin Innovation Centre

Dr Kenneth Baillie will work in partnership with Professor Peter Openshaw from Imperial College London and Professor Calum Semple from the University of Liverpool on the study. 

A £4.9 million investment from the Medical Research Council will kick-start a project that seeks to aid understanding of Covid-19 and its impact on the human body.

Researchers will collect samples and data from 1,300 Covid-19 patients in the UK. Their 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, the best way to diagnose the disease, and what happens in patients’ immune systems to help or harm them when they contract Covid-19. They will also monitor the effects of drugs used in patients, calculate how long people are infectious, and investigate whether people are infected with other viruses – such as flu – at the same time.

The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) will also play a role in the project, undertaking work to determine the genetic code, or genome, of the virus from samples.

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.

"Covid-19 is a 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, Academic Consultant in Critical Care Medicine and the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh