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Varsity leads study on COVID-19 antibody for children



QUEEN’S University Belfast is leading a UK-wide trial on coronavirus antibodies in healthy children.

  Over 1,000 children (known as ‘COVID-19 Warriors’) from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are selected for their antibodies two months and six months’ baseline checks.

  The aim of the study is to assess the numbers of children who may have had COVID-19, and if those children have antibodies that may be able to fight off the infection.

  The findings from this study will be important for estimating the proportion of children that have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and have antibodies that may be consistent with immunity.

  According to report, the data could be considered as part of planning measures, such as opening schools and opening routine paediatric services, such as health visiting and paediatric clinics.

  The study is led by Tom Waterfield, researcher from the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust Northern Ireland and Public Health England.

   “It is unclear what proportion of UK children has been exposed to COVID-19 and how many, if any, have the necessary antibodies to prevent future re-infection. This important research may help with planning for the reopening of schools and other vital children’s services.” Waterfield said.

  Health and Social Care Research & Development Division (HSC R&D Division) of the Public Health Agency plays an ongoing role in supporting the conduct of high-quality health and social care research and has provided funding to support the delivery of this important study.

  According to Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of HSC Research and Development, Professor Ian Young, “Research studies are vital at this time so that patients can access the best possible treatments which can help tackle the spread of COVID-19. HSC R&D Division has been working with researchers across the HSC and academia to address the global problem of COVID-19.

  The results of this study will provide insights into the exposure of children in the UK to the SARS-CoV-2 virus over an important period of time.”

  Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England, Shamez Ladhani said, “this study will play an important part in monitoring SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the community as we move out of lockdown and more children return to school.”

  He added that vital data on antibody and virus prevalence are already being collected through PHE’s national surveillance programme.”

  Health Minister, Robin Swann said, “I very much welcome the fact that Queen’s University is leading this hugely important UK-wide trial. Expert research has a central role in the world’s battle against COVID-19. Our understanding of this virus has already been greatly enhanced at pace but there is still much more to learn. My thanks go to everyone involved in this study.”

  Report further said that the study is supported by funding from HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency, The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and was also subsidised by donation from the Queen’s Foundation.

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