A nationwide effort led by Public Health England (PHE) to solve the mystery of whether people who had COVID-19 can get infected again hit a key recruitment milestone today, Wednesday 19 August 2020.
10,000 health workers from across the NHS have now signed up to take part in PHE’s ‘SIREN’ (SARS-CoV-2 Immunity & REinfection EvaluatioN) study, which is exploring whether specific COVID-19 antibodies provide immunity.
Scientists do not yet know if people who have been infected in the past are protected from becoming sick again, or how long any protection lasts.
Professor Susan Hopkins from Public Health England, said: “Every day we learn more and more about the impacts of becoming infected with COVID-19, but we don’t know if you can get it again, if you can pass it on, or if you develop immunity. We urgently need to find out the answers to these questions as rapidly as possible.
“I can’t overstate how grateful we are to the ten thousand NHS doctors, nurses, cleaners and porters who have signed up so far to help improve our knowledge about this new infection.”
Lord Bethell, Health Minister said: “Understanding our body’s response to COVID-19 is a critical step in beating this horrible virus. That’s why this clinical study, one of the largest in the world, is so important. It will help us understand the mystery of our antibody response to COVID-19.”
The study will follow participants for at least 12 months, with regular blood and swab tests and will also explore how factors like ethnicity, age or gender affect the chances of infection and the extent of any immunity. Preliminary results are expected before the winter.
All four nations from across the UK will eventually be involved. Recruitment in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is due to begin in the coming weeks.