NNUH joins PHE Covid-19 immunity study

18 September 2020

Our Partner The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has joined Public Health England’s national study investigating Covid-19 immunity.

The SIREN (SARS-CoV-2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation) study aims to find out whether previous coronavirus infection in healthcare workers results in future immunity to reinfection. Recruitment onto the study has opened at NNUH, to the end of September, and all staff are being given the opportunity to take part in this high priority study, which is led by Public Health England and supported by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The study will last 12 months and involves a fortnightly blood test, self-administered nasal swab test and online questionnaire which together will be used to detect active Covid-19 infection, the presence of antibodies and assess an individual’s exposure to the virus.

Dr Ngozi Elumogo, Principal Investigator for SIREN at NNUH, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a major impact across the UK and worldwide. We are learning all the time about this new strain of coronavirus and it is really important to understand whether prior infection confers protection against further attacks.”

“We are proud to be contributing to this national research study. While the primary objective of the study is focused on investigating the presence of antibodies and whether they reduce the risk of re-infection, there are a further ten secondary objectives.”

Understanding our body’s response to Covid-19 is a critical step in beating the virus. That is why this research study, one of the largest on health care workers, is so important. The study will also explore how factors like ethnicity, age or gender affect the risk of infection and the extent of any immunity. Results of this large-scale study will contribute to national and international policies on prevention, control and management of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Professor Susan Hopkins, Public Health England, said: “This is an enormously exciting study which will answer some incredibly important questions. The extent to which previous exposure to Covid-19 can convey immunity to the disease, and for how long, is crucial to the way we approach this pandemic in the coming months. Decisions about how to best contain the virus will be better informed and more effective once this information is known. We are immensely grateful to all the staff across the healthcare sector who have volunteered so far to help make this study possible.”