Southampton researchers lead study to find out effects of COVID-19 in people vulnerable to infections

Hans de GraafResearchers in Southampton are leading a study to find out how coronavirus – COVID-19 – affects adults and children who are more vulnerable to infections.

The ImmunoCOVID19 study, led by Dr Hans de Graaf at University Hospital Southampton, will monitor people throughout the pandemic who have an immune deficiency or are taking medication which affects their immune system.

Those who take part will complete a weekly questionnaire that takes less than 10 minutes to fill in and the adult or child does not need to have COVID-19 to participate.

The aim is to establish if these patients catch the virus more frequently or if they are more severely affected.

This will enable clinicians to give these patients more informed advice about managing their conditions.

The clinical teams and patient groups involved in the children’s study, which is being run at 23 sites across the UK, include rheumatology, immunology and infectious diseases, gastroenterology, renal, respiratory, oncology, neonatal and general paediatrics.

The adult study involves rheumatology patients and is being run at Southampton only.

“The information currently available from the most severely affected countries suggests that these conditions and drugs do not have a large effect on the response to coronavirus,” said Dr de Graaf, who is a consultant paediatric rheumatologist at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

“However, as COVID-19 is a new virus there is no definitive information yet about how children or adults with immune problems or on immune-suppressant drugs will respond.

“As many adults with immune problems and parents of children in the same situation have expressed concern about the potential impact COVID-19 will have on them or their children, we want to collect data that will enable us to give more informed advice.”

Participants will be asked to complete the same questionnaire until the rate of infection in the UK decreases, up to a maximum duration of a year.

This study has been prioritised by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and NHS England, Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care will be kept informed of ongoing results.

To find out more about the study and how to take part, visit the UHS clinical research website.

Posted on Friday 17 April 2020