Call for volunteers to take part in genetic study into why some patients become seriously ill with COVID-19 and others remain asymptomatic

Katherine Johnston (21 April, 2021)

Blood donation centres are popping up over London for those taking part in the research

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Scientists from a ground-breaking COVID-19 genetic research study and calling Londoners who came down with the virus to donate blood in ‘pop up’ centres across London. 

The study, led by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Genomics England is looking at how someone’s genes affect the severity of their illness, in the hope that this can help develop new treatments. 

Researchers say they need 2,500 from all backgrounds to join the next phase of the study, and in particular need more men and more black and Asian participants.

The first temporary centres where blood samples can be given will open on Saturday, April 24, in Lambeth, Croydon, Barking and Barnet.

Anyone who wants to take part but does not wish to travel can also book a home visit by a nurse.

More centres are scheduled to open across the city in the coming weeks.

“Tragically, the virus’ effect has been more widely felt among ethnic and minority communities, so it’s important we help those who are making such an important contribution in the fight against COVID”, said Aman Ali from Muslim Engagement and Development.

“We’re encouraging everyone to take a minute to see if they’re suitable to volunteer for the study. 

“The results will not only help us here in London, they’ll be shared internationally and offer more protection to some of the most vulnerable groups of people around the world.”

“We’re appealing for more volunteers from all walks of life – and in particular for people from London’s Asian and Black communities – to come forward and register,” explains Dr Kenneth Baillie, the study’s chief investigator. 

“We need to find people who tested positive for COVID but experienced either mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment. 

“To maximise the study’s potential, it’s important these volunteers are similar in age, gender and ethnicity of those people who were severely affected and hospitalised.”

“The quicker this research can be completed, the faster we can solve the COVID puzzle and protect  vulnerable people,” said Professor Sir Mark Caulfied, chief scientist at Genomics England. 

“Genetic research into COVID-19 is now playing an increasingly important role in our fight against the virus, enabling us to identify new forms of the virus and develop treatments.

“The findings from the GenOMICC COVID-19 Study will improve the treatment, care and outcome for those most at risk and lower the number of deaths.”

To register to join the study, visit https://covid.genomicc.org/

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