New research will explore why some people who contract COVID-19 have symptoms and others don’t, and will question why, out of those who become symptomatic, not all become seriously ill.

COVID-19 is a global healthcare crisis. Whilst there are a large number of deaths recorded it is clear that not every person who contracts COVID-19 becomes symptomatic, and of those who become symptomatic not all become sick. We are investigating why this is. At the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals we have exploited our strong links to develop this study which will answer important questions. Our approach has been informed by the jointly hosted NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and research undertaken at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China Campus.

What are we doing?
Healthcare workers are at higher risk of being infected by COVID-19 than the general population because of their contact with patients and the general public. We want to know how many of our doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals have already had the virus. We also want to know if this is more common depending on any physical characteristics (age, ethnicity, presence of conditions like diabetes or hypertension) and also based on any substances in their blood (number of immune cells, levels of inflammation-related substances).

We are collecting blood from healthcare workers during the pandemic – we will extract serum from samples taken at regular intervals (every week) to test for antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19 and measure other substances in the blood. This will help us understand the risk of infection among front line healthcare workers. We will also undertake a genotype to establish if there are any genetic characteristics that contribute to susceptibility for the disease.

What will we do with the samples?
We will use the bloods taken the first time to measure certain genes that we think may relate to immune response to viruses. We will use the weekly draws to measure serum antibodies and markers of inflammation against the virus that causes COVID-19. We will also be asking people if they have had to self-isolate, if they have had COVID-19 symptoms, if they have had a test for the coronavirus and if they tested positive.

What information will we report back?
Data will be fully anonymised so we will be able to report how many healthcare workers have had the disease and whether this relates for example to their ethnicity or age or other clinical characteristics. We will be able to establish which cellular pathways are important in developing treatments.

Why is this important?
In order to understand what treatments may work, and why patients become sick we need to study those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and those who have not.

Who is involved in this project?
Prof Ben Ollivere - Clinical Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Trauma Surgeon
Prof Ana Valdes, Associate Professor, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham
Prof Guruprasad Aithal, Professor of Hepatology, NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre.

Other Collaborators
Jayne Newham Nottingham Tissue Bank Manager

PANdemic Tracking of HEalthcare woRkers

COVID-19 in Healthcare Workers study
In association with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust