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BSI COVID-19 Taskforce

At the beginning of the pandemic, the British Society for Immunology (BSI) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) rapidly convened an expert group to collate and review what is currently known about the immunology of COVID-19, and to identify immunology research priorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This BSI are now taking forward the organisation of this taskforce. 

This high-level co-ordination group was originally chaired by BSI President, Professor Arne Akbar FMedSci, to ensure that the immunology research priorities are addressed as swiftly as possible and that a firm base is established for the necessary studies to inform our response to the coronavirus outbreak. He has now been succeeded as chair by BSI Trustee, Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters. 

Understanding the immunological response to the SARS-CoV-2 viral infection will help us to develop successful treatments and vaccines, identify vulnerable groups, and help inform public health measures to control the coronavirus outbreak. 

Published 3 February 2021

This report from the British Society for Immunology's Immunology and COVID-19 taskforce rapidly reviews what we do and don’t currently know about immunity to SARS-CoV-2 induced by vaccination and natural infection and outlines four research recommendations.

Published 19 January 2021

This statement has been developed by the British Society for Immunology COVID-19 and Immunology Taskforce and is aimed at people who either have a medical condition which means their immune system doesn’t function optimally or people who take medication that suppresses their immune system to provide reassurance around COVID-19 vaccination.

Published 10 November 2020

This report from the British Society for Immunology's Immunology and COVID-19 taskforce analyses what we currently do and don’t understand about the science behind why the immune systems of older people react differently to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The report also outlines five research recommendations to increase our understanding of how the older immune system responds to COVID-19, with a particular focus on issues around co-infections and multimorbidity.

Published 13 August 2020

This report from the British Society for Immunology's Immunology and COVID-19 taskforce rapidly reviews current research into what SARS-CoV-2 and our immune response to it does to our health over the long term in a range of individuals, from asymptomatic to severe cases. The briefing note outlines three key recommendations for future research.

Published 1 May 2020

This report jointly published by the British Society for Immunology and The Academy of Medical Sciences rapidly reviews current COVID-19 immunology research and identifies urgent research priorities. The paper reviews what we know about COVID-19 from immunology research and highlights knowledge gaps that could hamper efforts to get the pandemic under control.

Group membership

The group has been constituted to represent a broad range of immunology science expertise. The expert advisor group includes: 

Chair:​ Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters, BSI Trustee, Professor of Immunology, Head of Immunology Section and Lead for Lifelong Health Research Theme, University of Surrey 


  • Professor Danny Altmann, Professor of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Immunology and Inflammation, Imperial College London
  • Professor Adrian Hayday FRS FMedSci, Kay Glendinning Professor, Department of Immunobiology, King's College London
  • Professor Tracy Hussell FMedSci, Director, Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Manchester
  • Professor Paul Klenerman FMedSci, Sidney Truelove Professor of Gastroenterology, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford 
  • Professor Clare Lloyd FMedSci, Professor of Respiratory Immunology, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London
  • Professor Janet Lord FMedSci, Director of MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Paul Morgan, Director of the Systems Immunity Research Institute, Cardiff University
  • Professor Peter Openshaw FMedSci, Director, Centre for Respiratory Infection, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London
  • Dr Ruth Payne, NIHR Clinical Lecturer, Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, University of Sheffield​
  • Professor Ultan Power, Professor of Molecular Virology, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen's University Belfast
  • Professor Alex Richter, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Eleanor Riley FMedSci, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Ken Smith FMedSci, Professor of Medicine and Head of Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge  
  • Dr Ryan Thwaites, Research Associate, Department of Respiratory Medicine, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London
  • Professor Xiao-Ning Xu, Chair in Human Immunology, Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London


  • Dr Jennie Evans, Director of External Affairs, British Society for Immunology