COVID-19 Briefing, 13 July 2020

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Through our research, community outreach and expert commentary, the University of Birmingham is taking an active role in the fight back against COVID-19. Read our latest statements and follow our research updates.

Through Birmingham Health Partners, a strategic alliance between the University and two NHS Foundation Trusts, we are working to support frontline healthcare professionals. Visit Birmingham Health Partners.


Birmingham to play key role in ground-breaking new study into long-term health impacts of coronavirus

A major UK research study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients has been launched, with support from Birmingham Health Partners. The PHOSP-COVID study has been awarded £8.4million jointly by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This study is one of a number of COVID-19 studies that have been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Birmingham Health Partners – through the University of Birmingham, NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre and NIHR/Welcome Trust Birmingham Clinical Research Facility – will share expertise with a national consortium of leading researchers and clinicians from across the UK to assess the impact of COVID-19 on patients’ health and their recovery. Around 10,000 patients are expected to take part in the study led by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre – a partnership of the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, making it one of the largest comprehensive studies in the world to understand and improve the health of survivors after hospitalisation from COVID-19.  Birmingham to play key role in new study into long-term health impacts of coronavirus. 

Safe gaming and COVID-19

Research into how young people can be supported to use online gaming safely to enhance their mental wellbeing has been launched at the University of Birmingham. The aim is to bring together young people, academics, partners from the gaming industry with governmental organisations and charities to co-design a series of guidelines to better equip young people to make use of these important resources. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, young people are increasingly turning to online technologies and computer games for support during self-isolation. Weekly game sales rose between 40% and 60%in April, according to analysts at Future source, reflecting the stay-at-home requirements and young people spending increased time in virtual gaming environments. This was particularly true for games such as Fortnite and Animal Crossing, which offer opportunities to meet with friends virtually. While these platforms offer obvious social opportunities, little research has been done into how virtual worlds can help us understand and respond to rising rates of adolescent mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and self-harm. Safe gaming - new guidelines will support children online. 


Minister visits University of Birmingham to mark Government's launch of R&D roadmap

Amanda Solloway MP, the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation recently visited BHP founder member the University of Birmingham to mark the launch of the Government’s R&D roadmap and find out more about our COVID-19 research.

The Minister met Professor Andrew Beggs, Dr Alex Richter, and Professor Nick Loman to learn about their work in COVID-19 testing, antibody testing, and genomic sequencing – Birmingham being the only place in the country which is home to this powerful combination. The Vice-Chancellor, Provost and Minister also discussed science infrastructure investment and the important role of life sciences and healthcare innovation in the West Midlands recovery plan as set out by the Mayor last week. Part of the plan is a proposed West Midlands ‘Speedto Scale Region’ Programme, delivered by a partnership consisting of the University of Birmingham, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), University of Warwick and WMG, to harness innovation and create 22,000 jobs and £2.4bn GVA. Minister visits University of Birmingham to mark the Government's launch of R&D roadmap.


What coronavirus success of Taiwan and Iceland has in common

Linda Hsieh, Reader in Strategy and International Business, and John Child, Professor of Commerce, have written for The Conversation on how Taiwan and Iceland have responded effectively to the coronavirus pandemic. They are among a group of countries which adopted a cooperative strategy early on in the pandemic, bringing together multiple organisations to tackle the challenges in containing COVID-19. A cooperative strategy is when organisations try to achieve their goals through cooperation with other organisations. Our own recent synthesis of research explains the attraction of this approach. It can allow public authorities or companies to speed up their response to new challenges by partnering with other organisations which have complementary resources and expertise. Read about what coronavirus success of Taiwan and Iceland has in common.

Social care reform - Always Jam Tomorrow

Catherine Needham, Professor of Public Policy and Public Management writes about recent calls for reform to social care funding and why she is sceptical that COVID-19 will be the turning point some hope it will be. Read Professor Needham's blog - Social care reform - Always Jam Tomorrow.

Building a fairer country after the pandemic? It's time for the return of the council house

Liam O’Farrell, Research Associate at City-REDI at the University of Birmingham, writes how the return of council houses could be used to rebuild a fairer and more inclusive society after COVID-19. Read Liam's Blog - Building a fairer country after the pandemic? It's time for the return of the council house.

Living with the pandemic webinar series

In the past few weeks, the Institute for Global Innovation at the University of Birmingham have been running a series of webinars in which experts discuss issues related to the pandemic. On 18 June a panel of experts considered what the‘new normal’ might look like in areas such as travel, education and retail. The most recent webinar, held on 8 July, focused on the pandemic from an economics perspective. The panel considered how long it would take for the economy to recover, what the future of international trade might hold and the impact on Brexit.

Understanding the policy-making processes behind local growth strategies

The Industrial Strategy Council and City-REDI at the University of Birmingham at the University of Birmingham are co-hosting a webinar to discuss Council’s newest publication - Understanding the policy-making processes behind local growth strategies in England. They will discuss key findings from the research report, and debate its implications for the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, and the future of local economic policy. Register for Industrial Strategy Council: Understanding the policy-making processes behind local growth strategies in England: Live webinar

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In partnership with Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust, NHS University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham Health Partners.