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In response to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the world since it emerged late last year, and the likely impact on patients and the NHS in the UK, the NIHR School for Primary Care Research launched a special rapid-response research call in February 2020.  

The scope of the call was to better understand the COVID-19 virus, its epidemiology, its management, and its consequences for healthcare delivery.  

the following projects were awarded funding:

ACE-Inhibitors/Angiotensin Receptor Blockers and risk of death for people infected with COVID-19: a prospective cohort study Hajira Dambha-Miller

Using linked primary care and viral surveillance data to develop risk stratification models to inform management of severe COVID19 Rupert Payne

Rapid COVID-19 intelligence to improve primary care response (RAPCI) project Mairead Murphy and Jeremy Horwood

COVID-19 response from the DHSC and NIHR

NIHR's response to COVID-19

The NIHR has established a single, national prioritisation process for COVID-19 research to prevent duplication of effort and ensure that the resources and capacity of the health care system are not exceeded.

There is a list of COVID-19 studies with studies that have been given urgent public health research status by the Chief Medical Officer/ Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England.

DHSC guidance on the impact of COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR

Research from around the School


1. The PRINCIPLE trial is one of three national priority trials on COVID-19, mentioned in the No10 press briefing, and the only one taking place in primary care


World's largest trial of potential coronavirus treatments rolled out across the UK

2. COVID-19 Evidence Service from Centre for Evidence Based Medicine

Rapid reviews of primary care questions relating to the coronavirus pandemic

3. RCGP RSC COVID-19 Observatory

4. News: Risk factors for COVID-19 death revealed in world’s largest analysis of patient records to date. Academics at the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), working on behalf of NHS England, and in partnership with TPP and NHSX, have analysed the pseudonymised health data of over 17.4 million UK adults to discover the key factors associated with death from COVID-19.


Researchers from Keele University and institutions from across Europe, including the University of Oxford, reviewed 27 research studies that propose models for the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with Covid-19.

COVID-19 studies based on potentially 'weak and over-optimistic' data, warn Keele researchers.

Keele Impact Accelerator Unit (IAU) has launched a new guide for how to stay active and keep well during lockdown, aimed at people over 70 who are suffering with joint pain and other long term health conditions.
Top tips for health and wellbeing during COVID-19 lockdown.

Keele is also planning a qualitative study to explore the experience of rapid uptake of remote consultation technologies in MSK care across 3 counties (Wolverhampton, Derby/Burton and Staffordshire. More information will be available shortly.

PPIE Academic Lead Steven Blackburn has contributed to the NIHR RDS blog: "Public involvement during a pandemic: how we are supporting researchers."


Press release & publication: Family caregivers need support to administer end of life medications for patients dying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ben Bowers, Kristian Pollock and Stephen Barclay

New research to address COVID-19 related challenges

1. Using linked primary care and viral surveillance data to develop risk stratification models to inform management of severe COVID19.

Research Group: Cardiovascular. Collaborators: Universities of Bristol & Manchester

2. ACE-Inhibitors/Angiotensin Receptor Blockers and risk of death for people infected with COVID-19: a prospective cohort study. (SPCR funded, as above)

Collaborators: Dr Hajira Dambha-Miller, Prof Paul Little, Dr Beth Stuart, Dr Simon Fraser (University of Southampton), Prof Julia Hippisley-Cox, Prof Simon de Lusignan, Dr Ali Alrasbi, Mr William Hinton (University of Oxford), Prof Simon Griffin.

3. Dynamic web-resource on palliative and end of life care in the context of the coronavirus

Research Group: Palliative & End of Life Care Group, Primary Care Unit

4. Estimating delayed cancer diagnosis and impact on the NHS in England following lock-down due to COVID-19

Collaborators: This is a collaboration between the Cancer Research UK-funded CanTest Collaborative and the NIHR Cancer Policy Research Unit, led by Fiona Walter (Cambridge) and Richard Neal (Leeds). Other collaborators include Greg Rubin (Newcastle), Yoryos Lyratzopoulos (UCL), Stephen Duffy (UCL), Willie Hamilton (Exeter) and the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS).

5. A rapid evidence review of interventions to reduce social isolation and/or loneliness during COVID-19 self-isolation measures. 

Juliet Usher-Smith is supporting the group of medical students undertaking this work, led by Chris Williams.

Project summaries


Researchers in the Division of Primary Care are lead researchers on a national survey looking at the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic on the emotional and physical well-being of people across the UK.

Participation involves a brief online survey and taking a small sample of hair now and in 12 weeks time. Further details can be found on the project page: Exploring the emotional and physical impact of COVID-19 on adults living in the United Kingdom.

Please consider participating and sharing with colleagues, family and friends #HairThenShare

Professor Kavita Vedhara, Professor of Health Psychology, University of Nottingham


1. Using linked primary care and viral surveillance data to develop risk stratification models to inform management of severe COVID19 Rupert Payne

News: COVID-19: Understanding which patients are at the greatest risk of harm

2. Rapid COVID-19 intelligence to improve primary care response (RAPCI) project  Mairead Murphy and Jeremy Horwood

News: Investigating GP practices' response to the COVID-19 pandemic

3. The demand for home visiting services since the COVID-19 lock-down. Polly Duncan and Martha Elwenspoek

4. Reducing risks from Coronovirus transmission in the home. Lucy Yardley & colleagues from University of Southampton

5. Timing to implement hot and cold sites in primary care BNSSG COV23. Howard Thom and Jessica Watson

6. BMJ Editorial Wider collateral damage to children in the UK because of the social distancing measures designed to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in adults. Esther Crawley, Maria Loades, Gene Feder, Stuart Logan, Sabi Redwood, John Macleod

7. NIHR ARC West: The impact of COVID-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities

All COVID-19 research taking place at the Centre for Academic Primary Care


Prof Gene Feder and Medina Johnson discussing how to make a safe space in remote consultations with patients - WONCA COVID-19 Webinar #4 Family Violence


1. Coronavirus: how accurate are coronavirus tests? 

Jessica Watson, GP and NIHR Doctoral Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol and Dr Penny Whiting, Associate Professor in Clinical Epidemiology, NIHR ARC West and University of Bristol

2. How coronavirus has transformed the grieving process 

Lucy Selman, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care


1. ACE-Inhibitors/Angiotensin Receptor Blockers and risk of death for people infected with COVID-19: a prospective cohort studyHajira Dambha-Miller

2. Drug therapies that can up or downregulate ACE2 receptors in COVID-19 infection: A systematic review. Hajira Dambha-Miller

3. BMJ Editorial

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and covid-19 Paul Little

4. Germ Defence: A digital behaviour change intervention to improve infection control. Lucy Yardley and Paul Little

Germ Defence in the news:

5. A COVID-19 primary care database consortium was established in April 2020 across seven academic departments (including five within the SPCR). Collectively, its researchers have ongoing COVID-19 projects in overlapping datasets with millions of primary care records representing 30% of the UK population, that are variously linked to public health, secondary care and vital status records. The consensus agreement is aimed at facilitating transparency and rigour in methodological approaches, as well as consistency in defining and reporting cases, exposures, confounders, stratification variables and outcomes in relation to the pharmacoepidemiology of COVID-19. This will facilitate comparison, validation and pooling of research during and after the pandemic. The document is available as a pre-print on the Annals of Family Medicine website.

The use of primary care big data for COVID-19 research: A consensus statement from the COVID-19 Primary Care Database Consortium Hajira Dambha-Miller


1. Drug policy and coronavirus

Those using drugs problematically need support during the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, as they are amongst the most vulnerable members of society, argues a letter to the Times signed by Honorary Clinical Reader Dr Adam Winstock.

2. New study into psychological and social effects of Covid-19

A study led by Dr Daisy Fancourt (UCL Behavioural Science & Health) is looking into the psychological and social effects of Covid-19 in the UK.

3. Preventing and containing Covid-19 outbreaks in prisons

Reducing Covid-19 coronavirus spread by “moving the most vulnerable prisoners to less-crowded parts of the prison system, where outbreaks are easier to prevent and contain…could save many lives,” explains Professor Andrew Hayward.

4. We must not return to status quo after coronavirus

The current Covid-19 pandemic has shown that austerity was a choice and that things can be done differently if the political will is there and the same sense of crisis should be applied to the climate emergency, argues Professor Sir Michael Marmot.