Scientists involved in a ground-breaking COVID-19 genetic study are urgently calling for people across the West Country who caught the virus but did not require hospital treatment to volunteer to help with their research.
For the past 12 months, a group of NHS doctors and scientists involved in the GenOMICC COVID-19 Study have been trying to find out why some people who had the virus became extremely ill and needed hospitalisation while others experienced fewer or no symptoms.
To do this, they’ve been analysing blood donated by volunteers from both groups of people to see if their genes played a role. The unique study is especially important in light of new research that highlighted the disparities in symptoms across different demographics.
To date, nearly 8,000 people who tested positive with COVID but did not need to go to hospital have volunteered to take part. The preliminary results of the study have already identified possible new treatments to fight the virus, which are in clinical trials.
“Tragically, the impact of COVID-19 on African & Asian communities has been disastrous,” said Primrose Granville, a Bristol-based journalist, campaigner and community advocate. “It’s important we get involved in the fight against this virus. I’m encouraging everyone to take a minute to see if they’re suitable to volunteer for the study on the effects of COVID-19. It will involve a simple test that will help provide greater clarity on why members of our communities were so disproportionately impacted by this virus.”
However, with the study due to close next month, the scientists urgently need to recruit more people and are appealing to those who had the virus from across the West Country but did not require hospital treatment to sign up.
“We only have another month for the study and urgently need to find more volunteers who have had milder COVID-19 symptoms,” said Dr Kenneth Baillie, the study’s Chief Investigator. “Finding the right people to match the intensive care patients who have already volunteered is an essential step. We've already made discoveries that suggested promising new treatments for this devastating disease, and we have every reason to believe that we will find more if enough volunteers contribute.”
“We’re in a race against the clock to find more suitable people to volunteer matched for age, gender and ethnicity of those people who were severely affected and needed hospital treatment,” said Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist at Genomics England. “We particularly need more men to join the study and members of the West Country’s Asian and Black communities as these people were most severely affected by COVID.”
“If you tested positive for COVID but did not need to go to hospital, please sign up. You’ll be making a real contribution to improving the medical care and outcome for those most at risk from the virus – both now and in the future.”
The research study is open to anyone who tested positive to COVID but experienced mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment – volunteers can register online here.
In addition, for one day only on Saturday (5th June), Bristol-based eligible participants will be able to donate a blood sample at a temporary, COVID-secure centre at the Leonardo Hotel Bristol Glassfields (3 Temple Way, BS2 0GS). All volunteers must pre-register online.