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How NIHR Applied Research Collaborations rose to the challenge of COVID-19

Published: 23 March 2023

The contribution of the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) to the fight against COVID-19 is marked today, the third anniversary of the first UK lockdown, with the launch of a new publication NIHR ARCs: Supporting the fight against COVID-19.

The report highlights a selection of the 400-plus COVID-19 research projects the ARCs were involved in during the pandemic.

Highlighted projects 

Highlighted projects include:

  • Predicting hospital bed occupancy for COVID patients
  • Convening citizens’ juries on patient data sharing
  • Point-of-care testing in care homes
  • How GP consultations were impacted

A range of themes

The publication showcases work across a range of themes including:

ARCs' expertise 

ARCs’ expertise in data modelling, multiple long-term conditions, mental health and social care, alongside their ability to build and sustain collaborations, placed them in a unique position to support the COVID-19 effort. The report shows how ARCs were able to pivot their research in response to the pandemic, thanks to their funding from NIHR. 

In the foreword, the ARC Directors write:

“This publication outlines our response as ARCs, both collectively and individually, to the challenge of COVID-19. It showcases the part we have played in supporting the health and care sector and patients, public and communities. We are proud of our part in lending our expertise to understanding the disease and assisting the global effort to contain it, improving outcomes and saving lives.”

NIHR ARC East Midlands led development of the publication, with communications support from NIHR ARC West.

Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR and the Department of Health and Social Care’s Chief Scientific Advisor, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic was unlike any health crisis we had experienced for a century. In order for us to tackle the pandemic swiftly and strongly, we needed a collaborative and sustained approach across health and care research that harnessed the power of our collective effort like never before.

“This impressive report sets out how that effort was provided, extending across many different themes, specialisms, and areas of the country. It illustrates how researchers, working together to tackle a common cause, can have such an important impact for patients and the public.”

To keep up to date with the latest funding opportunities, events and projects join the ARC email newsletter and follow @NIHRARCs on Twitter.

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