LSHTM awarded new funding for research into coronavirus transmission

COVID-19 transmission in hospitals and the Orthodox Jewish community will be explored in new projects led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
Busy hospital corridor. Credit:

They are two of only eight new research projects awarded funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), totalling £5.3 million collectively.

All the projects aim to help inform policy decisions about COVID-19, including infection prevention strategies and any relaxation of existing containment measures.

Coronavirus transmission in an Orthodox Jewish community

Dr Michael Marks has been awarded £249k to assess transmission in a strictly-Orthodox Jewish community.

The Orthodox Jewish community has experienced a high number of COVID-19 cases. This project will work with a strictly-Orthodox Jewish community understand how community structures, such as household size, may contribute to transmission – including the role of children.

The researchers will combine data and samples from a survey of 500 households to develop mathematical models for transmission of coronavirus and estimate risk of transmission in different settings.

The findings will further our understanding of the role of community structures, such as household size and social mixing patterns, in the transmission of COVID-19 in high risk communities, as well as the role of children and asymptomatic infections in transmission.

This project has also received by £10k funding from LSHTM’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which is generously supported by alumni and friends of LSHTM.

Transmission of coronavirus in hospitals versus in the community

Transmission of coronavirus in healthcare settings is likely to have had a considerable role in the spread of the pandemic in the UK. Onward transmission from people who catch the virus in hospitals undetected and then pass it on outside is a particular concern.

Dr Gwen Knight and colleagues have been awarded £127k to explore how COVID-19 spreads within healthcare settings, compared to in the community.

The researchers will analyse UK-wide data on hospital cases of COVID-19 to understand how important transmission and infection control in hospitals was to the first ‘wave’ in the UK. Using mathematical and statistical techniques they will measure the contribution of transmission in hospitals to the total number of cases in the UK.

They will also investigate the impact of interventions, such as quarantine for discharged patients, and how any future resurgence might be tackled.

Understanding how much transmission happens in hospitals or in the community will help limit ongoing spread. In addition, knowing what factors make certain hospitals hotspots means that these factors can be targeted to limit transmission.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and Head of the NIHR, said: “Understanding which factors are important in COVID-19 transmission and therefore how the disease spreads is important for targeting measures to control the pandemic.

“These eight new research projects funded by NIHR and UKRI will help us to understand transmission in a number of key groups and settings.”

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, part of UKRI, said “We still don’t know enough about how and where SARS-CoV-2 is spread. This range of studies seeks to determine the risk of transmission in real life settings, including schools and hospitals.

“The results will not only help us understand when to take extra precautions when necessary, but could also allow us to return to more social behaviour in settings where the risk is deemed low.”

COVID-19 Response Fund

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