Leeds Covid study volunteers urgently needed to help scientists develop new coronavirus treatments

Researchers are urgently seeking people in Leeds who caught Covid-19 but did not become so ill that they had to be hospitalised.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 11:46 am
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 11:49 am

The GenOMICC Covid-19 Study analyses the genes of people who have had the virus to discover why some experienced no symptoms while others became extremely ill.

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It is already contributing to the fight against Covid, with preliminary results helping identify possible new treatments.

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Researchers involved in the GenOMICC Covid-19 Study are particularly keen to see more men and members of Asian and Black communities in Leeds signing up to take part.

However, researchers from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and scientists involved in the project urgently need to recruit more people from all backgrounds if they are to continue to make progress.

They are particularly keen to see more men and members of Asian and Black communities signing up to take part.

Aman Ali from Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) said: "The virus' effect has been more widely felt among ethnic and minority communities, so it's important we help those who are making such an important contribution in the fight against Covid.

"We're encouraging everyone to take a minute to see if they're suitable to volunteer for the study. The results will be shared internationally and offer more protection to some of the most vulnerable groups of people around the world."

Pop-up centres have been used across the UK to gather blood samples from participants but those signing up now will get a home visit from a nurse.

The program was well supported in Scotland, Bradford, Preston, London, Leicester and Birmingham when pop-up sites were opened recently.

Eligible participants from Leeds and surrounding areas gave donations of blood at a temporary centre set up at the Crowne Plaza Leeds hotel on Saturday. Those who sign up now will be able to arrange a home visit by a nurse instead.

Elizabeth Wilby is a Senior Research Sister at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and Principal Investigator for the study in Leeds.

"Over the last 12 months, the city of Leeds has suffered badly from Covid-19," she said. "Sadly, Covid's effect has disproportionately been felt by people of Asian and Black heritage. This study provides us with an opportunity to try to better understand why.

"We strongly encourage people from ethnic and minority communities across Leeds to support this study to help us discover new ways of beating the virus."

Dr Kenneth Baillie, the study’s Chief Investigator, said they wanted volunteers from all walks of life to come forward and register as soon as possible.

"We need to find people who tested positive for Covid but experienced either mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment," he said.

"For comparison purposes, it’s important that these volunteers are similar in age, gender and ethnicity of those people who were severely affected and hospitalised."

According to the Chief Scientist at Genomics England, genetic research such as this is playing an increasingly important role in identifying new forms of the virus and developing treatments.

Professor Sir Mark Caulfield said: "The quicker this research can be completed, the faster we can solve the Covid puzzle and protect vulnerable people.

"The findings from the GenOMICC Covid-19 Study will improve the treatment, care and outcome for those most at risk, as well as helping to prioritise future vaccinations and lower the number of deaths.”

The research project is open to anyone who tested positive for Covid but experienced mild or no symptoms and did not require hospital treatment.

Volunteers can visit covid.genomicc.org/ to find out more about the study and register to take part.

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