LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it will back three nationwide COVID-19 studies with 8.4 million pounds ($11 million) to fund research into understanding human immune responses to the pandemic coronavirus.
The funds, from UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research, will help scientists develop better immunity tests, study the body’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and understand why some people suffer life-threatening COVID-19 while others have mild or asymptomatic infections.
“Together, it is hoped these studies will improve the treatment of patients and inform the development of vaccines and therapies,” the funding bodies said in a joint statement.
“Importantly, these studies will determine when and how immunity persists or whether people can become re-infected (with COVID-19).”
The funding will be split between the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium, which will get 6.5 million pounds to study how effective immunity is developed and why people respond differently to the disease, and another research collaboration which will get 1.5 million to study the humoral immune response – molecules produced by the immune system to fight infection.
Just under 400,000 pounds will fund a third project looking at key features of fatal COVID-19 and the impact the virus has upon the lungs and other vital organs.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Stephen Addison)