Covid immunity study 'Siren' set to get underway at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

A study into coronavirus immunity is expected to get underway at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Monday.

By Michael Holmes
Thursday, 9th July 2020, 9:53 am
Updated Thursday, 9th July 2020, 9:54 am

The hospital’s medical director Dr Jim Gardner said the national research programme, called Siren, will look at “levels of infectivity” and begin to “work out the extent of immunity that people develop from Covid, which is still largely unknown”.

He said: “That will require repeat swabs, mostly of our own members of staff who will consent to the study, and we will be building that up over a period of time.

“All of that is intended to make sure that our own workforce is safe and therefore as safe as posible in terms of managing the healthcare of the people we serve.”

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Blackpool Victoria Hospital (Picture: Daniel Martino for JPIMedia)

Around 80 per cent of people who test positive for Covid-19 are symptom-free, Dr Gardner said during a weekly coronavirus briefing, which means many will be unaware they have the disease unless they are routinely tested.

But boffins still aren’t sure whether catching the virus – and recovering from it – results in immunity or, if it does, how long it lasts.

Siren, a large-scale study launched by Public Health England, will see NHS trusts using tests to “monitor a cohort of healthcare workers fortnightly for up to 18 months”, according to NHS documents.

It will test immunity in both “the short and medium term”.

Patients and researchers at the Vic also took part in the clinical trial that led to the first known specific treatment of Covid-19.

It put the resort at the heart of a breakthrough that had global significance – with a cheap steroid now being given to seriously ill coronavirus patients to save their lives.

It cuts the risk of death by a third for those on ventilators, and a fifth for those on oxygen.