New study to understand COVID-19 severity in South Asian population of India and the UK

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute and King’s College London are joining forces with the Indian Institute of Science to explore how variations in the body’s initial immune defence and risk of cardiovascular disease affect COVID-19 outcomes for South Asian people living in the UK and in India. 

It's basic science that has ceaselessly brought progress throughout this tragic pandemic, and we hope that this study can continue in that vein.
Adrian Hayday

The study is one of four being funded as part of a new £5million UK-India Covid-19 Partnership Initiative between UK Research and Innovation and India’s Department of Biotechnology and Ministry of Science and Technology. 

The successful projects aim to understand the pandemic through the study of related ethnic groups in different environments in both countries. These projects have the potential to deliver public health impacts in mitigating the severity of the COVID-19 in both the UK and India. 

Project lead Adrian Hayday, who heads the Crick’s Immunosurveillance Laboratory and is Professor of Immunobiology at King’s College London, says: "It's an extraordinary opportunity to learn how the immune systems of South Asians are confronting COVID-19 in India compared to how South Asians fared in London last year. It's basic science that has ceaselessly brought progress throughout this tragic pandemic, and we hope that this study can continue in that vein."

The international team will work to understand why COVID-19 affects South Asians in different countries in different ways. Their goal is to support the rapid identification of information that may allow doctors to develop new prevention strategies, better patient stratification, more targeted monitoring, and potentially new treatments to improve the outcome of COVID-19 in both India and the UK.

The study builds on the continuing COVID-IP study, a collaboration between the Crick, King’s College London and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, where researchers performing detailed analyses of the composition of immune cells in the blood of patients with COVID-19. They’re identifying ‘immune signatures’, within which are clues that could help doctors predict at an early stage who might need additional treatments or critical care, and may also guide future treatment strategies.

Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary of India’s Department of Biotechnology said: “This partnership builds on the joint strengths of the Indian and UK research communities and I am very pleased that these high-quality projects have high potential for direct impact in the form of improved understanding of a rapidly evolving pandemic. These projects are likely to offer evidence-based solutions towards mitigating the severity of the outbreak in both the UK and India. This partnership also exemplifies the spirit of global partnerships in addressing global issues.”

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