The world faces an unprecedented challenge in our efforts to tackle the spread of COVID-19 and it is vital we harness our research capabilities to the fullest extent to limit the outbreak and protect life.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and NIHR Co-Lead
On behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR is playing a critical role in terms of funding, enabling and delivering research into COVID-19.
Our primary focus has been on urgent public health research
- research that needs to take place during the emergency phases of the pandemic when infection rates are high. Our goal is to gather the necessary clinical and epidemiological evidence that will inform national policy and enable new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to be developed and tested. We are working in collaboration with the devolved administrations and organisations including Public Health England, UK Research and Innovation, the Health Research Authority, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and NHS England and Improvement.
This urgent research is complemented by research being undertaken across our research infrastructure, units and schools and, more recently, by our investment in longer-term 'recovery and learning
' research through NIHR research programmes. Outside the UK, we are funding global health research
to tackle COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries, in partnership with UK Research and Innovation.
Urgent public health research into COVID-19 continues to be our number one priority. This includes the key vaccine studies and therapeutic 'platform' trials such as RECOVERY, REMAP CAP and PRINCIPLE. However, we are also committed to supporting a diverse and active portfolio of research, including important non-COVID-19 studies. To this end, we developed a framework in May 2020 - when the NHS started to restore routine clinical services - to support the restart of research activities that were paused due to the pandemic. Since that time, we have seen a steady improvement in the number of studies and study-sites that are open for recruitment. We fully recognise the pressure the NHS is now under with the 'second wave' and the impact this is having on planned care and associated research, and are actively working with partners to build resilience into non-COVID-19 studies so that they continue wherever possible.