UK Scientists are launching a major new project to answer key questions on how the immune system interacts with COVID-19, in order to develop better treatments, diagnostics and vaccines.

The UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) combines the expertise of scientists from 17 institutions and will work to identify how the immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2 – the virus which causes COVID-19.

The research is critical to understanding the many unknowns around the novel virus – for example, why it makes some people sick and not others, what constitutes effective immunity and how long might that immunity last.

The UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium has received £6.5million of funding over 12 months from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This represents the largest immunology grant awarded to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

UK-CIC aims to deliver meaningful benefits for public health by providing insights critical for improving patient care, developing new therapies, assessing immunity within the population and developing diagnostics and vaccines.

UK-CIC sets out to answer five key questions that will help the global coronavirus response including why do people experience different symptoms from COVID-19 and what role does the immune system play in this?

Paul Kaye, Professor of Immunology in the Department of Biology at the University of York and Hull York Medical School, said: “Our research team at York, together with colleagues in Cambridge, Cardiff and Newcastle, will be taking the lead on addressing the question of how our immune system contributes to the damage caused to different body organs after SARS-CoV-2 infection and whether treatments that modulate specific immune responses might therefore be beneficial. We will also be looking at the role the immune system plays in determining variation in susceptibility to primary infection with COVID-19 and how this varies across the life course.

“The coronavirus pandemic poses a global challenge of enormous magnitude and this nationally-coordinated effort will enable us to work together, harnessing technologies and expertise not available within a single institute, to bring about meaningful benefits for patients.”


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