During the developing COVID-19 pandemic, The Nuffield Department of Medicine is taking measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Departments are instructed by the University's Registrar to work from home and manage building closures.
This is to restrict any contact between individuals as far as possible. The University remains open and operating as far as possible with the following restrictions:
- Only essential activities should continue on site (e.g. research relating to Covid-19 or that of national importance, or the maintenance of research equipment and animal welfare). Departments are responsible for defining what is essential, in line with divisional guidance, and should provide appropriate operating procedures. PVC Research will be in touch with Divisions to assist in drawing up guidance.
- Other research and teaching continues remotely where possible and students return home (if possible and where that has not already happened)
- Departments physically close except where essential activities have to be done on site. Staff work remotely where possible. Only core support functions and other essential activities continue on site and only with critical staff on site – e.g. building access and maintenance, security, animal welfare, maintenance of research equipment.
Key Information for Staff
A team of medical researchers and bioethicists at Oxford University has published results today in Science that further our understanding of coronavirus transmission. Professor Christophe Fraser from the Big Data Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, a lead author on the Science paper explains, “We need a mobile contact tracing app to urgently support health services to control coronavirus transmission, target interventions and keep people safe". The project is co-led by Dr David Bonsall, who explains “The mobile app concept we’ve mathematically modelled is simple and doesn’t need to track your location; it uses a low-energy version of Bluetooth to log a memory of all the app users with whom you have come into close proximity over the last few days. If you then become infected, these people are alerted instantly and anonymously, and advised to go home and self-isolate".
The three projects include work on an effective vaccine, enabling pre-clinical and clinical vaccine trials, as well as supporting researchers to develop manufacturing processes to produce a vaccine at a million-dose scale. Another project will examine how existing treatments could be repurposed to treat coronavirus: Professor Sarah Gilbert, £2.2 million for vaccine development and trials; Professor Peter Horby - £2.1 million for research into the effectiveness of current drugs on COVID-19 and Dr Sandy Douglas – £0.4 million, research into vaccine manufacturing capabilities.
There are currently no specific treatments for COVID-19. It is possible that some existing drugs usually used for other conditions may have some benefits – but they may not. The Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial will provide doctors and the health service with information they need to determine which treatments should be used. NDM's Prof Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health and Chief Investigator discusses the trial in this short interview.
Prof Deirdre Hollingsworth
an infectious disease epidemiologist
from the BDI discusses social distancing in a podcast with Ian Sample from the Guardian. What is it? How might it help to flatten the curve
? And what are some of the big unknowns when it comes to predicting how effective it might be?
199 patients received standard care, of which 99 received lopinavir-ritonavir for 14 days. Lopinavir-ritonavir didn’t induce significant clinical improvement, and mortality was similar in both groups. However, patients treated with lopinavir-ritonavir spent less time in hospital and in intensive care. The trial enrolled severely ill patients and was not big enough to detect modest benefits. Much larger studies are warranted to confirm or exclude if lopinavir-ritonavir treatment can help.
View Research Highlights
Podcast: Meet our Researchers
Viral vectored vaccine development
Professor Sarah Gilbert has been making and testing vaccines designed to induce T cell responses for ten years, chiefly using antigens from malaria and influenza. Based at the Jenner Institute, several of the vaccines developed in Professor Gilbert’s laboratory have progressed into Clinical Trials.