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HEALTH University of Glasgow leads COVID-19


research response in Scotland Virus research centre named among 13 key UK centres


The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR)


A virus research centre in Glasgow is leading the Scottish response to COVID-19 after being named among 13 key centres in the UK. Te MRC-University of Glasgow


Centre for Virus Research (CVR) is working in partnership with colleagues across the UK on a range of research areas related to the new coronavirus. Tis includes working closely


with colleagues in Public Health England to understand linkages across the UK in an effort to shut down ongoing transmission in real-time. COVID-19 is a new disease in


humans, caused by a member of the coronavirus family of viruses. Tought to have originated in bats, it was first recorded in humans in China in late 2019, and can cause a fever, cough and breath- ing problems. Experts currently think around 80% of cases are mild, however a small portion of infected people go on to have complications such as pneumonia, and require a period of hospitali- sation. So far, it has spread to most


countries around the world, and has already affected more than 400,000 people, several thou- sands in the UK. Te WHO cur- rently estimate the death rate at 3.4%, however scientists believe the real mortality rate may be lower as there is evidence that not everyone with mild forms of the disease have been tested. Research areas include


fundamental studies to under- stand the nature of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus which causes COVID-19, genomic sequencing and bioinformatics analyses of


the virus from patient samples, and the identification of potential therapies.


On the 23 March the CVR was named as one of 13 key centres in a pan-UK alliance of scientists, working on COVID-19 whole genome sequencing. One of only two facilities involved in Scotland, the CVR will play a key role in the new £20m COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium. Te consortium is backed by the government and the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser and is comprised of the NHS, Public Health Agencies, Te Wellcome Sanger Institute, and 13


18 | FUTURESCOT | SPRING 2020


academic institutions, including the University of Glasgow. Te CVR will use its labs to


sequence the genome of the virus from confirmed Scottish patients, and work with partners to map how COVID-19 spreads and be- haves in populations around the UK. It is hoped that the genetic code could arm public health agencies and clinicians with a unique, cutting-edge tool to com- bat COVID-19. Te CVR has also been an-


nounced as playing a key role in new COVID-19 scientific project, led by the University of Edin- burgh which has received £4.9m


of rapid response government funding to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Te project seek to increase our understanding of COVID-19 and its impact on the body. Professor Massimo Palmarini,


Director of the CVR, said: “Te CVR and its scientists are at the centre of Scotland’s – and the UK’s – response to the current coronavirus outbreak. As the largest group of virologists in the UK with the facilities to handle samples from infected patients, we are well placed to conduct pivotal research into emerging diseases such as COVID-19.” l


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