At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts and key UK funders of research and development identified a number of areas where the UK needed to increase its research scale or infrastructure to respond to important strategic, policy and operational questions about COVID-19.
One consequence of this was the establishment of the National Core Studies (NCS) programme by the Government Office for Science in the summer of 2020 to ensure critical questions can be answered quickly and effectively.
The COVID-19 National Core Studies are a crucial part of the UK’s ongoing pandemic response. They enable the UK to use health data and research to inform responses to COVID-19, as well as accelerating progress to establish a world-leading health data and research infrastructure for the future.
Six National Core Studies were set up, including the Immunity programme led by Professor Paul Moss, Professor of Haematology at the University of Birmingham. This study is funded by UK Research and Innovation and aims to deepen our understanding of immunity against COVID-19 by predicting individual risk, working to protect against infection, preventing reinfection, understanding the protection that vaccines provide for different groups in more depth and preparing for future pandemic challenges.
The BSI is delighted to be partnering with National Core Studies Immunity, and our support takes a number of forms, including:
- Overseeing and delivering external communications for National Core Studies Immunity, engaging with the media and a range of external audiences to ensure its research findings are widely disseminated.
- Ensuring that the views of patients and the public influence the direction of research through running National Core Studies Immunity’s patient and public involvement programme.
- Managing the UK Covid Vaccine Research Hub, which is funded by National Core Studies Immunity.
The National Core Studies Immunity Programme has invested in a wide range of research studies, including:
- The Asymptomatic COVID19 in Education (ACE) Cohort, led by the University of Nottingham, looking at immune responses to vaccination in young adults.
- UK-REACH, a University of Leicester study investigating the impact of ethnicity on COVID-19 outcomes. Nested within UK-REACH, the BE-DIRECT study is focusing on how the immune system responds to infection and vaccination.
- Coronavirus Immunology Analysis study: Over 80s vaccination response, a study led by the University of Birmingham, looking at immune response durability in people over 80.
- DuRaCoV: The Durability of immune Responses to vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 and its Variants, led by Imperial College London.
- Determining the immunological basis for weakened SARS-CoV-2 vaccination outcomes, a UCL-led study looking at immune response in people with HIV or leukaemia.
- A University of Birmingham-led study to understand immune response durability in people with a diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
- MELODY, led by Imperial College London, which seeks to improve our understanding of responses to COVID-19 vaccination in individuals who are receiving immunosuppression.
- OCTAVE and OCTAVE-DUO, led by the University of Glasgow, the latter of which is looking at the effectiveness of different boosters in people with immune suppression.
- The SIREN and PITCH studies, which are investigating vaccine breakthrough in the largest cohort of UK healthcare workers. Nested within PITCH, VIBRANT seeks to understand why some people experience breakthrough infections.
- SCORPIO, a University of Cambridge-led study looking at the effect of obesity and weight loss on vaccine responses.
- An immunogenetic approach to guide the need for booster shots, a study by the University of Oxford looking at the genetic basis for why some people respond well to boosters and some poorly.
- A sub-study of the PeTREA study, led by the University of Liverpool, looking at COVID-19 vaccine responses in people with follicular lymphoma.
- Clinical Informatics of vaccine breakthrough, a study led by the University of Edinburgh.
- The EVITE Immunity study, led by Swansea University, to assess the efficacy of the UK Shielding Policy.
- A study into cytokine auto-antibodies led by the university of Cambridge.