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CEIDR and HPRU EZI COVID-19 research programme

The University of Liverpool, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the NHS, represented by Liverpool Health Partners, have united to redirect the majority of Liverpool's research efforts to COVID-19. Research programmes are designed to have immediate benefits for public health. This programme is supported by approximately £1 million in pump priming from the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the efforts of over 200 researchers, underpinned by equipment and laboratory space across the Liverpool City Region. 

The Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging Zoonotic Infections (HPRU EZI) and the Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases Research (CEIDR), led by Professor Tom Solomon and Professor William Hope respectively, are working together to deliver an ambitious and innovative programme of work. CEIDR is a joint initiative between the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool.

Other key partners are Liverpool City Council and Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme.

Many clinical trials and systematic reviews are already underway, or will begin shortly, to strengthen the evidence base for the COVID-19 response. The COMET Initiative has released its work to date on developing core outcome sets for COVID-19 studies.

The #Liverpool_Malawai_COVID19 research effort consists of:

Clinical Characterisation and Biobanking

The University of Liverpool hosts the UK’s COVID-19 biobank, supported by awards from Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Department of Health and Social Care, National Institute for Health Research (DHSC NIHR), working in collaboration with International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) on its ISARIC-4C study. The University of Liverpool is curating the UK’s biobank of samples from patients with COVID-19, which will be available to researchers all over the country.

Diagnostics

The FASTER diagnostics programme at the Centre for Drugs and Diagnostics, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine will enrol patients suspected of COVID-19 for diagnostic evaluation. We are interested in point-of-care diagnostics for the UK and low and middle income (LMIC) settings. Investigators are also researching potential small molecule biomarkers and prognostic biomarkers.

Drug Discovery

Drug discovery and development programmes are underway, using new and repurposed compound libraries in the Centre for Drugs and Diagnostics at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, with the aim to rapidly identify drug candidates for onward clinical evaluation at sites both in the UK and overseas.

Viral Dynamics and Protective Immunity

A community-based project is being developed to study viral transmission, determinants of protective immunity, potential for re-infection, and behavioural determinants of transmission. We are also studying the role of cellular immune responses in severe COVID-19, in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and the University of Oxford.

Pathogen Biology

Researchers can grow and store SARS-CoV-2 for experimental studies. Real-time sequencing enables rapid contact tracing, assessment as to whether SARS-CoV-2 is evolving and whether the sequence has an impact on the severity of disease, developing a better understanding of host risk factors for acquiring the virus and advancing to severe disease.

Epidemiology and Public Health Informatics

Combined Intelligence for Public Health Action (CIPHA) and the Liverpool City Region Civic Data Cooperative are developing innovative control measures such as smart social distancing and symptom monitoring. Clinical epidemiology projects include transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among healthcare workers and psychological resilience interventions for health and social care workers.

Therapeutics, Early Phase Clinical Trials and Pharmacokinetics-Pharmacodynamics

Hollow fibre infection models are being progressed to assess new antiviral compounds. Clinical protocols are in development to test experimental therapies for COVID-19. Clinical trials are supported by Good Clinical Practice (GCP) bioanalytical capabilites and PK-PD modelling. Prescribing resources to support clinical trials of experimental COVID therapies have also been developed.

Vaccines

Liverpool’s expertise in vaccines are being deployed to develop and test new vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 based on technology recently established to make a Zika vaccine.

Knowledge Mobilisation, Public and Community Involvement

Social science research is focussing on the wellbeing of healthcare workers and the general public; understanding how individuals, communities and health care systems perceive risk. We're developing effective communication strategies for public and policy understanding of disease transmission and prevention, supporting the development of resilient populations and wider socio-economic systems.