Researchers And Experts Working Together To Study Covid-19

The beginning of 2021 has seen a deepening of this Covid-19 crisis in Ireland, Europe, and worldwide. Covid-19 represents one of the most significant collective challenges that the world has faced in modern times. Every society element was affected by the outbreak, from health to the market and our most fundamental human and social values and customs.

The requirement for shared knowledge and understanding has never been higher as we contend with the crisis and plan for the future.

Royal Irish Academy

The Royal Irish Academy, Ireland’s leading body of specialists in the sciences and humanities, will convene an internet workshop series curated by the Academy’s Vice- President, Daniel Carey, MRIA, NUIG, to deal with these fundamental questions, providing explanation and analysis for a public audience. Members of the academy, early career researchers, activists, and experts from throughout society will be encouraged to join us to be as lively and creative as we can.

The online conversations commenced in 2020 and will last throughout 2021. Online bookings are now available for the upcoming session.

TILDA Study On COVID Outbreak For Ireland’s Older People

Experts in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) have published a detailed and extensive report showing the toll of this COVID-19 crisis on Ireland’s older adults’ health and social conditions. Frank Feighan, TD, launched the report Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being, and the National Drugs Strategy.

The TILDA COVID-19 report probes into a wide variety of factors that influence the lives of people aged 60 years and over during the first month or two of the pandemic, such as changes to regular activities, social interactions, physical activity, and other behaviors, as a result of measures put in place to limit the spread of this virus.

The highly anticipated report measures the effect of constraints on decreasing the spread of COVID-19 disease has had on 4,000 adults aged 60 years and older, including unmet healthcare requirements and modifications to caregiving and receipt of care. TILDA’s report, the most comprehensive of its kind, also examines the scale of greater loneliness and social isolation among older adults and the effect on physical and mental health. Additionally, it describes the degree of vulnerability to COVID-19 among participants and their families and friends throughout the first months of the outbreak and the amount of concern about the virus one of this at-risk group.

How Was The Research Carried Out?

After the COVID-19 pandemic approached Ireland in March 2020, TILDA was particularly positioned to record the pandemic’s effect on older adults’ lives. With the Health Research Board (HRB) aid, TILDA surveyed 4,000 of its present participants between July and November 2020.

TILDA has examined the lives of elderly adults in Ireland for at least ten years. It offers a rich account of their health, fiscal, and social condition of a nationally representative sample of older adults. Nearly 4,000 study participants aged 60 years and older completed a survey questionnaire posted to their homes. The findings of this report outline key information gathered in this survey.

Key Findings Of The Report

Compliance: There’s a high level of compliance with Government public health information, with 80 percent of their over-60s reporting adherence to information on social distancing measures and participating in protective behaviors to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Compliance: 62 percent of participants report not traveling to see relatives, and 80% don’t see friends at all because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prevalence of COVID-19: The prevalence of COVID-19 among participants was 5 percent. This was three times greater among adults aged 60 to 69 years than the over 70s (6% vs. 2%).

Effect of Pandemic: Between July and November 2020, 1 in 20 (5 percent ) adults aged 60 and over have lost a relative or friend because of COVID-19 infection.

Pandemic Impact: People most worried about the pandemic live alone; they are aged 70 and over (54 percent ), are female (52%), are educated to primary level (56 percent ), and reside in rural areas (51 percent ).

Physical Activity: Nearly one-quarter (22 percent ) of older adults in Ireland didn’t meet the minimum recommended physical activity levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However, 27% report that they walk more frequently than they did before the pandemic, 17% also exercise more regularly at home than they did before.

Loneliness: 30 percent of older adults feel lonely at least some of the time. Increased isolation has caused an increase in loneliness throughout the populace.  Loneliness is associated with a poorer general quality of life and physical and psychological wellbeing. Higher loneliness and social isolation because of COVID-19 limitations have negatively influenced the health of the populace.

Depression: 21 percent of adults aged 60+ report possibly clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms. Worryingly, this is double the incidence of depression seen before the pandemic.

Anxiety: 29% report high-stress levels, and 11 percent have moderate-to-severe stress levels. This represents a considerable increase from before the pandemic.

Delayed Medical Care: Nearly one-third (30 percent ) of adults aged 60 and over delayed or didn’t get the medical attention they needed. 43% of participants postponed dental hygiene, and 31% postponed an appointment with a GP. This will have serious consequences for the health of older adults, now and in the future.

Caring: 15 percent of those aged 60 and older report that they cared for someone during the pandemic. This is more than twice the percentage who reported caring in 2018 (6 percent ). Most of the care is provided to people’s spouses.

University College Dublin School of Medicine

Staff in the UCD School of Medicine have been busy in the frontline, providing care for patients with Covid-19, providing clinical leadership, and major study programs. Our university has many of the world’s leading doctors and scientists that are actively leading the fight against this devastating disease. The faculty has established a Covid-19 Clinical Research Group that coordinates efforts to make sure we’re directing the pushback against the pandemic.

This group builds on this university’s powerful clinical research foundations ( in infectious diseases), respiratory medicine, and critical care research. We’ve rapidly mobilized our experience and have already produced a significant Covid-19 research program.

Mobilizing Our Resources

UCD has mobilized its key assets in clinical research and refocused some of its important programs to deal with the pandemic.

UCD Clinical Research Centre

Directed by Professor Peter Doran, the center focuses on advanced, translational medical care study at our university hospital partners Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and St Vincent’s University Hospital. Clinical research helps find ways to improve clinical care and to establish new remedies.

UCD Centre for Pathogen Host Research (CEPHR)

Directed by Professor Paddy Mallon, CEPHR draws together experts and research teams from across UCD who concentrate on infection-related research. CEPHR members include clinical, translational, biomedical, and statistical researchers working on aspects of host and pathogen research by the UCD School of Medicine, UCD School of Biology and Biological Sciences, and UCD School of Politics International Relations. It works closely with the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL), the largest testing center for SARS CoV2.

Critical Care Clinical Trials Network

Directed by Professor Alistair Nichol, the Irish Critical Care-Clinical Trials Group addresses key drug trials and associated researches in the population, backed by the Irish Critical Care-Clinical Research Centre, which the HRB funds. The ICC-CRC comprises highly motivated scientists, clinicians, and nurses working collaboratively to enhance critically ill patients’ outcomes in Ireland.

COVID-19 vaccine bottle

Our Projects

All Ireland Infectious Disease Cohort, Headed by Professor Paddy Mallon

The All Ireland Infectious Disease Cohort, directed by Prof Paddy Mallon, is registering patients in various Irish Hospitals with infectious diseases, such as Covid-19. This study will collect samples from patients together with clinical information. It will allow researchers to ascertain the molecular contributors to the host-pathogen interaction in sick patients with Covid-19. This study involves collaborators from all around Ireland who are working together.

SPRINT SARI, headed by Professor Alistair Nichol

SPRINT-SARI is a global, multi-center, potential, brief interval incidence observational examination of patients in participating intensive care units (ICUs) and hospitals with critical acute respiratory disease (SARI). It’s crucial to systematically gather information on SARI patients to understand the epidemiological characteristics and individual programs and outcomes fully. The data collection to understand Covid-19 is of vital importance internationally, and we work together to understand this disorder better.

REMAP CAP, headed by Professor Alistair Nichol

This study uses a REMAP design (a Randomised, Multifactorial, Adaptive, Embedded, Platform trial). The broad purpose of this REMAP is, over time, to ascertain and continuously update the best set of remedies for community-acquired pneumonia.

REMAP-CAP has implemented additional trial domains so the platform can react rapidly to Covid-19. These domains are

Antiviral therapy:  Immune Modulation therapy

The impact of these procedures on patients in intensive care has been determined.

Numerous Irish hospitals, including St Vincent’s University Hospital, are now actively engaged in REMAP-CAP with Professor Nichol as the Irish Lead and UCD as the aiding site.  Initial findings from an international intravenous hydrocortisone trial have been published in the American Medical Association Journal, reported here on the UCD School of Medicine site.

Covid-19 And Asthma, Directed by Dr. Marcus Butler

Given the current public health information for acute asthma cocooning and lack of evidence, we need to ascertain whether SARS-Cov-2-induced-severe asthma aggravations are associated with worse asthma management at 30 days after discharge compared to non-Covid-19 asthma exacerbations.

We’ll assess this by consequently measuring standard patient-reported results, including the ACQ7 questionnaire, in addition to objective criteria: lung function with handheld personal spirometers for domiciliary lung function examination and oxygen levels estimated by a pulse oximeter, each of which is connected to the patient’s smartphone application (patient power) that will be offered to patients to use at home for 30 days.

Solidarity Trial, headed by Professor Cormac McCarthy, Assistant Professor Eavan Muldoon

SOLIDARITY is a clinical trial being driven by the World Health Organisation. UCD is actively engaging in this trial via Professor Cormac McCarthy in St Vincent’s University Hospital and Assistant Professor Eavan Muldoon (Jul 2020 – current )Associate Professor, and Aoife Cotter (March-July 2020), in Mater Misericordia University Hospital. For this trial, the federal Lead Investigator is Professor Joe Eustace of UCC, and HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland coordinates the trial.

The trial aims to quickly assess in tens of thousands of Covid-19 infected individuals the possible effectiveness of existing anti-inflammatory and antiviral agents, including:

  • Lopinavir/ritonavir Together with interferon beta.
  • Lopinavir/ritonavir
  • Remdesivir
  • Hydroxychloroquine

The solidarity project was created to answer significant questions, including whether these medications will decrease mortality and reduce illness severity. To find out more and results from the Solidarity trial, see the WHO dedicated web page.

Covid-19 in Pregnancy, Directed By Professor Donal Brennan

The primary purpose of this multidisciplinary research is to create a national registry of Covid-19 positive patients during pregnancy and clarify the strength and type of immune response to Covid-19 disease to offer insight into the durability of the antibody response and the supply of transient immunity to the neonate. We’ll also evaluate the pandemic’s impact on women’s birth and mental health experiences for women and clinicians and if this varies by place of birth or model of attention.

Research Ethics at Covid-19 Pandemic, Headed by Professor Rachel Crowley

This project involves two particular areas of investigation.

  1. Profiling research ethics committee response to Covid-19 pandemic — an adaptation of work practices and
  2. Review of integrity reviews in printed Covid research

Added Irish Research Projects

A total of 39 research projects throughout The island of Ireland will get funding to help tackle the pandemic issues.

A Covid-19 response program will see 39 innovation and research projects receive financing across the island of Ireland. This involves a $10.5m investment from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), also #1.29m from the Department for the Economic and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

The projects for funding include studies regarding transmission in meat-processing plants, nursing homes, and offices, in addition to PPE risk assessment, evaluation of individual risk factors, and the development of distance education technologies.

Funding will be given to researchers based at University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, NUI Galway, University of Limerick, Dublin City University, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Ulster.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science Simon Harris, TD, stated this investment could help further our knowledge of Covid-19 and help find answers to a number of the challenges that the pandemic has introduced to society and the market.  “As we move closer to starting a vaccination program, we will need to see that the virus hasn’t gone away — encouraging our specialist researchers in our higher-education institutions will help us to reopen our society safely,” he added.

Nine of the funded projects will be initiated as part of a collaborative all-Ireland research venture backed by the #1.29m from the Northern Ireland government.  Northern Ireland economy minister Diane Dodds said that collaboration is critical since Covid-19″knows no frontiers.”

COVID-19 information sign

Support Silicon Republic

“It is vital that the world research strengths of Northern Ireland universities are fully exploited to address the common challenges we are now facing right across this island, north, and south.”

Funding Covid Research

The financing is part of the Covid-19 Quick Response Research, Development, and Innovation program supported by SFI, which premiered in March of this year and has seen millions of euros invested into research across the nation.

Research projects are directed by higher-education institutions and involve hospitals, government agencies, representative bodies, and businesses.

Prof Grace Mulcahy directs the project to get the highest funding in this round ($1.2m) in University College Dublin. It will look at understanding and preventing the Covid-19 outbreak in meat-processing plants.

Other projects include the development Of an integrated system for the surveillance of Covid-19 at wastewater, led by Prof John McGrath of Queen’s University Belfast and Prof Wim Meijer of University College Dublin; and research headed by Dr. Tofail Syed from the University of Limerick analyzing the usage of antibacterial fabrics for gowns and masks.

Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general of SFI, said the Covid-19 Rapid Response Research, Development, and Innovation Programme was created to bring together research expertise to help handle Issues created by Covid-19.

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