A study developed by the University of Leicester and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is calling for volunteers to help it understand why some people develop more severe COVID-19 than others – particularly those from black and minority ethnic communities.
The EXCEED study will investigate the impact of the pandemic on long-term health conditions. This will help develop new ways to prevent or treat COVID-19 during and after the pandemic.
Professor Martin Tobin, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Leicester, said: “COVID-19 has become a global health crisis. There is currently no cure so research is needed to understand more about this new virus and help us tackle the pandemic.
“We know the chances of getting diseases are affected by a person’s environment and their genes. Environmental influences include smoking and air quality. Genetic influences are passed through the family and are written in our DNA.
“Our study collects information on health, lifestyle and genetics. By looking at both environment and genes, we may be able to identify groups of people who may be more at risk of developing particular diseases, such as COVID-19, and develop prevention and treatments for those groups. We also link to volunteer medical records, so we can see how these diseases impact on people over the years.”
Dr Manish Pareek, Associate Clinical Professor in Infectious Diseases at the University of Leicester, said: “Latest figures show that minority ethnic and migrant communities have had higher rates of COVID-19 hospital admissions. However, it is unclear as to the reasons for these patterns. To understand why this is happening we need to do more research in this field, and especially encourage volunteers to join the EXCEED study from black and minority ethnic communities.”
Manohar Patel is a participant on the EXCEED study. He said: “We basically need more people to join in from different backgrounds and of different ages as well; people from different countries that now live in this country.”
Anyone over the age of 18 living in the Midlands, UK, can take part – whether or not they have any long-term health conditions or have had any COVID-19 symptoms. Volunteers who consent to take part will be asked to complete short questionnaires about their health, whether they have had COVID-19 symptoms, and how the pandemic has affected them.
In the future, volunteers may be asked to take use a saliva sampling kit or can agree for leftover blood samples taken in hospitals or at GP practices to be used to study their health and DNA. Should they become available, volunteers may also be asked to complete home testing kits to see if they have had COVID-19.
For more information, and to take part, visit www.exceed.org.uk and follow the instructions on screen.