Huge ‘thank you’ to Scottish community as UK COVID-19 research passes one million participants
13th March 2021
More than one million participants, including over 66,000 people in Scotland, are being thanked for their vital role in COVID-19 research across the UK.
Coinciding with this remarkable milestone, the four UK nations are jointly launching the #ResearchVsCovid ‘thank you’ campaign to celebrate the efforts of participants, researchers and healthcare professionals for their involvement in COVID-19 research.
Research has been a crucial part of the pandemic response – advancing scientific understanding, researching new ways to understand and treat the disease, and guiding the treatment and care of patients, both now and in the future.
The first case of coronavirus in Scotland emerged at the beginning of March 2020. Since then over 120 COVID-19 studies have been delivered across Scotland including drug trials, vaccine trials, testing new diagnostics, clinical studies and observational studies. Supported by NHS Research Scotland and the Chief Scientist Office of Scottish Government, health boards across Scotland have been involved in this research.
Progress has been made possible by members of the public, NHS and university researchers, health and social care professionals, regulators, life science companies and policy makers across the UK and internationally working together.
These remarkable, collaborative efforts have enabled world-leading research into understanding risk factors for disease, therapeutics such as dexamethasone and tocilizumab, delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and more.
Such discoveries have significantly improved outcomes for people who get the virus, especially those most at risk of becoming severely unwell and hospitalised; and are providing protection against COVID-19 in the shape of the vaccination programme.
Without such significant support from the public, this vital research would not have been possible.
Dr Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland said:
“Since the advent of COVID-19, people across the UK have come together to fight back and save lives. Researchers quickly set up new studies, staff throughout our NHS made research possible, and patients and the public offered their selfless support. I’m really proud of Scotland’s contribution to these remarkable achievements.
“Thanks to all those involved we have identified treatments, improved care, helped develop vaccines and ultimately saved lives. Whilst we still have challenges, we can begin to see a path out of the pandemic and it is important to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in, led or enabled this research over the last 12 months.”
To launch the #ResearchVsCovid ‘thank you’ campaign, a series of video thank you messages - to participants, researchers and NHS staff - will be released.
All data correct as of 9th March 2021
- Across the UK, a total of 1,075,000 participants have taken part in COVID-19 research
- In Scotland, over 66,000 participants have taken part in 123 COVID-19 research studies; with 17,500 participating in over 30 urgent public health (UPH) COVID-19 research studies; and 15,800 in 93 other COVID-19 research studies;
- The Office for National Statistics Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey is a UK wide survey with 33,084 participants in Scotland.
Chief investigator and Academic Consultant in Critical Care Medicine at NHS Lothian and Senior Research Fellow at University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, Dr Kenny Baillie was involved in the recent discovery of five genes associated with the most severe form of COVID-19.
“The challenges of delivering research during this time have been significant, and I want to express my continued thanks to patients and their families for their participation in these research studies, as well as of course to NHS health boards and the research community for their sustained efforts. Even at a time of great stress and uncertainty, patients have shown great altruism in agreeing to be part of the GenOMICC study. This has made it the largest consented research study ever in UK intensive care units and has led to important new insights about the treatment of COVID-19 and critical illness.”
Respiratory consultant at NHS Tayside Dr Philip Short, helped to recruit the first global patient in the Janssen vaccine study:
“We welcomed our first participants just days after opening our vaccine trial in Tayside. It is testament to the expertise and facilities we have here, but also the support we have had from the local population. We would like to thank everyone for their support. COVID-19 has been a huge challenge but to see research now making a positive difference is hugely rewarding and it is really important to recognise what has been achieved through commitment, resilience and ultimately working together”
Professor Kevin Blyth, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at University of Glasgow and Honorary Consultant Physician at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, has led on several COVID trials and said:
“We want to thank everyone who has taken part in COVID-19 research within NHSGGC and across the UK, including the RECOVERY trial which has led to two highly effective treatments. Every person involved has played their part in improving outcomes for patients now and in the future.
“However, we still have more to do and our research is ongoing. For example, we are currently running a new trial involving early treatment using a course of anti-viral tablets that can be taken at home, before severe symptoms develop. Those who have recently tested positive in the Glasgow area could be eligible for the GETAFIX trial, and can find out by going to www.getafix-trial.org”
Director of Research and Development at NHS Grampian, Honorary Consultant Gynaecologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and personal chair in Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen Professor Margaret Cruickshank said:
“The commitment of the research workforce across Scotland and the altruism of patients and the public participating in COVID-19 research has offered hope during a very challenging year. We are now seeing this research translate into vital treatments, vaccines and improved care. It is important to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to these efforts and recognise the significant advances made by working together – it has truly been a collaborative effort.”
Professor Kev Dhaliwal, Respiratory Medicine at the University of Edinburgh/NHS Lothian leading on community and hospital studies, said:
“We must continue to all work together to tackle the challenges that we face and crucial research will help us overcome this pandemic but also be more prepared for the next pandemic. It has been inspiring to see the amazing research response in Scotland.
“Only through clinical studies can we develop new preventative and therapy options and we are hugely grateful for everyone’s efforts to date. Early intervention is crucial and in the Lothian region, we are focussing on supporting a ‘Hospital at Home’ study that will help us look after patients at home and trial a therapy before severe symptoms occur. If you have recently tested positive, please register at https://www.ed.ac.uk/inflammation-research/clinical-trials/spike-1”