The project will be led by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with researchers at University of Limerick and University College Dublin.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, has announced a €4.8 million investment into the immunology of Covid-19 at Trinity College Dublin.
Supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the partnership will be led by Professor Kingston Mills and Professor Aideen Long at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, Trinity College Dublin.
“I am delighted to be announcing the establishment of this important Covid-19 research partnership led by Trinity College Dublin, a world-leading academic institution in immunology, said Minister Harris.
“Science and research have never been more important as the world faces a global pandemic. We still have so much more to learn about this virus and this partnership will be key to addressing some of the key questions.
“I congratulate all the researchers and clinicians for coming together, with the support of SFI and philanthropic and private sector organisations. This is of national importance given the immense societal and economic impact of the current pandemic and will enable us to contribute solutions to the challenges we face.”
The research will seek to understand why some people are more susceptible to Covid-19 than others. The immunologists will develop, validate and deploy rapid anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing in Ireland to identify previous SARS-CoV-2 infection in high priority healthcare workers and in the general community.
This will provide key data on epidemiology of the infection in the Irish population and allow identification of individuals that are immune and therefore safe to return to work. The project will also focus on the design of effective vaccines and novel treatment approaches.
Commenting on the award, Professor Kingston Mills, professor of experimental immunology and academic director at Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute said: “A better understanding of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 will assist in the design of an effective Covid-19 vaccine, the best long-term approach for containing the virus and preventing a recurrence.
“The longer-term objective is to create a national research centre focused on the immunology of infection that will enable Ireland to be poised and better prepared, with the appropriately skilled and coordinated scientific and medical expertise, to deal with other infectious disease epidemics in the future,” he added.
To date, 1,738 people in Ireland have lost their lives to Covid-19, while there have been 25,489 confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak in March.
By Stephen Larkin
Picture: Jason Clarke
Published: 3 July, 2020