Scientists working on an innovative medical study Covid-19 made an urgent call to people in Lancashire who caught the virus to donate blood at a special “pop up” center.
To encourage more people to join the studio, a temporary center at the Legacy Preston International Hotel on Marsh Lane will open its doors to volunteers on Friday.
If participants do not want to travel, they also have the option to book a home visit with a nurse.
The unique GenOMICC Covid-19 study analyzes the genes of people who had the virus to find out why some did not experience symptoms, while others became extremely ill.
The study is already contributing to the fight against Covid, with preliminary results helping to identify possible new treatments.
However, for the study to progress further, the scientists urgently need to recruit 2,500 additional people from all backgrounds.
Along with seeking help from members of Preston’s Asian and black communities, they are also keen for more men to volunteer – a goal that has won the support of a major racial campaign group.
A Development Officer at CORE (Coalition of Racial Equality Organizations), Karun Maudgil, said: “As CORE, we represent a coalition of 27 ethnic minority organizations across the UK.
“We welcome the emerging donation centers as they will give greater clarity on why members of the ethnic minority communities we represent who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 infection, hospitalization and death rates have experienced varying degrees of symptoms – from asymptomatic until deadly. ”
The genetic research project was enthusiastically accepted in places in Scotland and Wales, and Bradford and Slough in England, when similar pop centers were opened – and with life in Preston beginning to return to a sense of normalcy, organizers hope for a similar response.
Chief investigator Alexandra Williams of Royal Preston Hospital said: “This study has one key goal – to help us understand why Covid has influenced different groups in different ways.
“Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of people who have finished hospital have an Asian and black heritage – so we need people from these communities to join the study as soon as possible to help us discover new ways to beat the virus.”
The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Kenneth Baillie, said they are calling for more volunteers from all walks of life and especially for people from ethnic communities to come and register.
He said: “We need to find people who tested positive for Covid but experienced either mild or no symptoms and did not need hospital treatment.
“To maximize the potential of the study, it’s important that these volunteers are similar in age, gender, and ethnicity to those people who were severely affected and hospitalized.”
A chief scientist at Genomics England, Professor Sir Mark Caulfied, said genetic research on Covid-19 is playing an increasingly important role in the fight against the virus, enabling scientists to identify new forms of the virus and develop cures.
He added: “The faster this research can be completed, the faster we can solve the Covid puzzle and protect vulnerable people.
“The results of the GenOMICC Covid-19 Study will improve the treatment, care and outcome for those most at risk and reduce death.”
The research project is open to anyone who has tested positive for Covid but has experienced mild or no symptoms and has not required hospital treatment – volunteers can register online here.