Research leads say ‘thank you’ to staff still volunteering for COVID-19 trial two years on

ESNEFT colleagues involved in a COVID-19 research study are being thanked for continuing to be a part of the trial two years on.

When COVID-19 hit in early 2020 the Research team pressed pause on many existing studies and focused on finding out more about the virus.

They worked on a trial into the effectiveness of the Novavax vaccine, recruited patients for a study looking into how our genes affect our response to the virus and more latterly on the impact of Long COVID. They also signed up for the SIREN study where ESNEFT staff across all departments were regularly screened for the virus.

Although ESNEFT colleagues have been asked to test regularly through the pandemic, the SIREN study required a bit more involvement. Staff who volunteered were screened in the clinic every fortnight and provided a quarterly blood sample managed by the Research Team and supported by the Trust’s Blood Services lab, with some samples sent away for further analysis.

SIREN, which is led by the UKHSA and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is still ongoing and research nurse Tracey Abery said she is incredibly grateful to all the participants who keep showing up.

Female nurse in blue uniform taking blood from another person who is in a dark blue nurse's uniform

Research nurse Tracey Abery and one of the SIREN participants

Tracey, who is based at Colchester, said: “Thank you to everyone. We really couldn’t have done it without you and we’re so grateful you’re still coming and being part of this important piece of research.”

At Colchester 62 members of staff are current participants of SIREN and at Ipswich there are 87 still taking part. Even if staff members only took part in one visit, their samples have still been included in the study and contributed to vital pandemic research.

Alison O’Kelly, generic research lead for SIREN at Colchester Hospital, added: “Not only has the study been such a valuable study to find out more about COVID, it’s also been great to spread the word of research. I’ve met so many people who work at the Trust as a result. Many have said ‘I never knew you existed – I didn’t know what research did.’ ”

The study has run across Colchester and Ipswich hospitals. ESNEFT research team lead Paul Ridley has overseen the Ipswich side. He said: “This study has been a great example of collaboration between teams with the cancer, diabetic and generic research teams. Some were also study participants as well as study deliverers.”

The SIREN team at UKHSA said: “We would like to thank all staff members who have been involved in the SARS-COV-2 Immunity & Reinfection EvaluatioN (SIREN) study for their vital contribution to the COVID-19 pandemic response. Thanks to you we know more than ever about COVID-19, including a greater understanding of the effect of vaccines, the burden and impact of reinfections, and the combination of the two.”

The SIREN study is currently funded to run until the end of March 2023. More information can be found on gov.uk or by reading the two-year anniversary blog written by Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA, which can be found here.

Find out more about the research trials happening at ESNEFT and how to participate.

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