Our researchers are contributing to the ongoing global effort to counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our staff and students continue to support the NHS and our community.

How our research and community is supporting the global effort

Our researchers across the academic spectrum are working together to address the COVID-19 pandemic through a host of innovative projects. Our research-intensive culture means we are playing a pivotal role in the global challenge to beat the virus, including:

Direct clinical care and support

Our clinicians and health care workers are major contributors to frontline care and are continuing to provide life-saving support throughout the pandemic. Our scientists have made a huge contribution both locally and nationally with helping to deliver testing while students from across the College of Medical and Dental Sciences have been undertaking a host of vital volunteering work.

Understanding clinical aspects of the disease

We have increased the international community’s understanding of the effect of the disease on patients through published clinical studies. Our clinical academics have been involved in more than 100 clinical papers, ranging from epidemiological studies describing those at most risk of the disease through to predictors of poor outcomes.

This has included establishing the increased risk of BAME patients being admitted to hospital and reporting that although children are usually asymptomatic, rarely they can develop a very severe response to the virus called Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome. Our researchers also rallied colleagues from other institutions and organisations to quickly establish the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium and the global CovidSurg collaborative.

In February 2021, we were awarded government funding to improve the treatment, causes and symptoms of so-called Long COVID in non-hospitalised patients.

Understanding the pathological basis of disease

Researchers from across the University have repurposed their expertise to study COVID-19 and seek answers to critical scientific questions. We have used our expertise in diagnostic test development and immunology allied to our state-of-the-art category 3 containment laboratories to study the time-course of infection, viral replication and the immune response to the virus. This work has resulted in the development of a new and highly sensitive antibody test.

We are also leading the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium, have repurposed techniques developed to track mutations in the Ebola virus during the epidemic in Africa to track the SARS-CoV-2 virus as COVID-19 spreads throughout the UK, and studied the effects of COVID-19 on the brain and on psychological well-being.

Testing for the disease

Our academics have been heavily involved in testing since the start of the pandemic in the national Lighthouse laboratory at Milton Keynes and also the fully accredited Pillar 2 Turnkey laboratory in our Medical School serving the campus and our local population. 

We have also studied the prevalence and spread of the virus within our NHS hospitals generating crucial data that are helping to plan patient flows and staff protection within clinical areas. Our academic community has also been crucial for scrutinising research, for example assessing the validity of the claims being made for the many emerging tests that are being pushed both for antibodies and virus antigen. 

Treating the disease

Our academics are leading one of the national clinical trials platforms, CATALYST, testing new treatments and are also improving technology to improve care for those affected by the virus and increase protection for frontline staff.

The social impacts of the pandemic

Our researchers are helping to unravel the complex and evolving economic and societal challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The breadth of this research is vast; from developing insight into the challenges faced by families living on a low income during the pandemic, understanding the implications for the future of COVID-19 vaccination trial recruitment, and the consequences on the economy as people continue to work from home after lockdown. 

During this time we have provided policy recommendations on forced migration and sexual and gender based violence, developed remote home monitoring methods to improve patient care, and have provided teachers with resources to enhance support for autistic children.

Meet our experts

For insight into our research and commentary on particular areas: