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Vital coronavirus research to track healthy frontline NHS staff

Last updated: 06/05/2020

Healthy frontline NHS staff in Bristol will be studied as part of a ground-breaking research project led by infectious disease and immunology specialists from Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and the University of Bristol.

The research is being funded initially by Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, the dedicated charity for the children’s hospital as part of the charity’s emergency Coronavirus Appeal.

The LOGIC project will monitor 125 healthy frontline NHS staff from the emergency department of the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children to inform potential vaccines and treatment. Researchers will track their symptoms (or lack of), the presence (or absence) of the virus in their mouths and noses and the development (or not) of the protective antibodies in their blood over a three-month period.

The Grand Appeal has raised £100,000 through its emergency appeal so far. The funds raised to date have enabled the charity to commit to support the research project as part of the international fight against coronavirus, while continuing to deliver the charity’s vital services.

The charity’s funding will bridge the gap until conventional funding from the UK Government and research funds can be accessed. This enabled the research team to get this time-critical research underway incredibly quickly while the nation was in the peak of this rapidly evolving virus.

The study will be carried out by researchers from the University's COVID-19 Emergency Research Group (UNCOVER) in partnership with clinical staff.

While it is widely known that Covid-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, there is little understanding about the SARS-CoV-2 infection and the relationship between the symptoms, viral and immune dynamics which is needed in order to inform public health control measures and the development of a vaccine.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and honorary consultant at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, said: "The rapid response of The Grand Appeal has enabled us to set up this important study in record time.

“There has been fantastic buy in from nurses and doctors to help with this research. By monitoring healthy adults this study is going to tell us a lot about how this infection develops and occurs. We want to uncover the details of the disease’s natural history, which isn’t known at present."

Nicola Masters, director of Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, commented: “Over the years, we have worked arm-in-arm with the children’s hospital and the University, funding some of the ground-breaking research and projects in development to improve the future for sick babies and children. Now, it’s only right that we rise to this challenge and support them in the fight against this invisible enemy.

“We have been astonished by the support we’ve received to date and we can’t thank our supporters enough for their help to get us to the incredible £100,000 milestone. However, the challenge is not yet over with a significant hole in our fundraising income we must continue to raise the vital funds needed to support this project and the services that we operate – and to do so, we need your help.”

To support the research and for more information please visit www.grandappeal.org