The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has been awarded £500,000 by the UK government to support its vital work in furthering our understanding of the spread of COVID-19 how it can be controlled.
Led by Professor John Edmunds, the project will involve real-time forecasting and scenario analyses which will support health officials to make informed decisions about COVID-19. Behavioural surveillance will also be conducted to help track adherence to social distancing measures, and how this affects the rate of disease spread within the UK.
This funding is the second round of funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Twenty-one new studies into the novel coronavirus are receiving £14.1 million as part of the £24.6 million rapid research response.
These projects build on the UK’s world-class expertise and capability in global heath and infectious disease that has already shaped our understanding of the pandemic and is informing measures to tackle it. They support the UK government’s efforts to save lives, protect the vulnerable and support the NHS so it can help those who need it the most.
Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, LSHTM’s Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID) has been providing the UK government with insights into the virus, including patterns of transmission, possible scenarios and control methods to halt the spread, and behavioural response. This research so far has informed decisions to help assess health resource availability, such as critical care beds, the stress on healthcare systems and how regional and national communities can prepare. This research has been made openly available on the CMMID COVID-19 repository.
UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “The research community’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has been outstanding. In a matter of weeks, researchers have formed projects to develop potential vaccines, repurpose existing drugs and explore the potential for new medicines, and to examine how the virus is transmitted and causes wide variation in symptoms. Pre-clinical trials of vaccines and clinical trials of drugs are already underway.
“The pace at which this work has been carried out is tribute to the UK’s world-class research base and its dedication to the fight against this disease.”
Jonathan Sheffield, NIHR Covid-19 Research Operations Director, said: “In just a few weeks the UK’s health and science communities have risen to the challenges presented by COVID-19 in deeply inspiring ways. Alongside the selfless work being done by our amazing frontline NHS staff, our world-leading research community is also putting its cutting-edge expertise to use in myriad ways.
“Though the studies announced today may vary in theme, they all represent some of the best and brightest scientific research into COVID-19 being done anywhere in the world.”