New Scottish expert group to study spread of COVID-19

Panel includes health data specialists

A new expert group providing additional scientific analysis of the impact of COVID-19 in Scot- land has been announced by the First Minister. As the number of cases in-

creases, the Scottish Government convened the group to obtain ‘the fullest possible understanding of exactly how COVID-19 is spread- ing in Scotland’. Professor Andrew Morris,

Professor of Medicine at the Uni- versity of Edinburgh and Director of Health Data Research UK, will chair the Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group. He will be supported by vice

Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood announces measures at a COVID-19 media briefing

chair, Professor David Crossman, Dean of Medicine at the Uni- versity of St Andrews and Chief Scientific Advisor for Health at the Scottish Government. Te group will supplement the

advice coming to the four nations from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) to further strengthen Scottish Government modelling work informing national and local decisions in Scotland during the pandemic. Chief Medical Officer Dr

Catherine Calderwood said: “We are facing an unprecedented situ- ation and it’s crucial we not only follow the latest scientific advice coming from SAGE, but establish what that means here in Scotland on a local level. “It’s vital that we are well

equipped to deal with all pos- sibilities as this outbreak grows globally and this advisory group will play a key role in developing our understanding of the virus and its impact on Scotland.” l

University of Edinburgh secures £5m to join government’s ‘rapid response’ to coronavirus

Researchers are set to collect data and samples of COVID-19 in a bid to increase the understanding of the disease and its impact on the body. Te results will provide real-

time information about the virus and could help to control the outbreak and improve treatment for patients. Specifically, researchers will

use the data to discover who in the population is at higher risk of severe illness, what is the best way to diagnose the disease. Tey will also probe what

happens in patients’ immune systems to help or harm them when they contract COVID-19. Te team will also monitor the

effects of drugs used in patients, calculate how long people are infectious, investigate if people are infected with other viruses – such as flu – at the same time. Dr Kenneth Baillie, Academic

Consultant in Critical Care Medi- cine, University of Edinburgh, said: “COVID-19 is a completely new disease and presents so many unanswered questions.


Trough analysis of samples from 1,300 people, we can increase our understanding of how COVID-19 makes some people desper- ately sick. Tis in turn will help inform how we can best treat the disease.” Dr Kenneth Baillie has secured

funding from the Medical Re- search Council (MRC) to work in partnership with Professor Peter Openshaw from Imperial College London and Professor Calum Semple from the University of Liverpool.

Te MRC-University of

Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) will also play a role in this project, undertaking whole genome sequence of the virus from samples. Dr Antonia Ho from CVR will coordinate recruitment of Scottish patients. Te team has been part of

the International Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Consor- tium (ISARIC) for eight years and includes co-investigators from six UK universities and Public Health England. l

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