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July 1, 2020


OP Adrian Martineau (1984-89) is Professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity at Queen Mary University of London, and Covidence-UK Chief Investigator.

He is asking OPs to help him and his team by signing up to Covidence-UK. The study is seeking to enrol 12,000 UK residents aged 16+ to complete an on-line survey about potential risk factors for the disease.

More information is here:

Recruits are asked to sign up at and fill in an initial questionnaire, covering their medical history, lifestyle and behaviour, for example their social distancing and hand-washing. Monthly updates will then provide a bigger picture.
The study will also automatically draw on patients’ NHS records to include information on test results, hospitalisations and response to treatments.

The study will enable the researchers to see where age, gender and ethnicity link into other potential risk factors, such as longstanding medical conditions and the use of particular medications, or lifestyle factors such as smoking, vaping, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise.

Adrian writes, “Knowledge is power, and we have learnt a lot about the coronavirus since it first emerged in Wuhan late last year. We have learnt that ventilators are not the solution for everyone, we have discovered that symptoms can include losing your sense of smell or taste, and we have found that patients in intensive care do better when they are on turned on to their stomachs at regular intervals.

Much of the knowledge about Covid 19 has come from frontline medics and nurses sharing information about what works, and what does not. Now, with Covidence-UK we are doing this on a much bigger scale, by bringing together a team of researchers from all corners of the United Kingdom, each with their own unique expertise. And we are asking members of the Pauline Community to share the information that will help us combat this dreadful virus.

We are not talking about magic bullets, we are talking about simple things like dietary and lifestyle changes that will reduce the risk of falling ill.

If we can identify strategies that reduce the risk by five or ten percent — and there is every chance we will — it will have a major public health impact. It will also free up resources to care for those who do fall ill.

Much of my previous research has focused on vitamin D, and this is one obvious line of inquiry for Covidence-UK. We know vitamin D influences immunity, and some studies have shown that people with low levels are more likely to get respiratory infections.

So, it may be no accident that most cases of COVID-19 have occurred in the northern hemisphere, when we were coming out of winter and many people were short of the sunshine vitamin.

However, the studies are inconsistent, and finding an association is not the same as finding a cause and effect. For instance, statistically there is a clear association between the rise in piracy and global warming — but no one believes for a minute that Captain Jack Sparrow and his colleagues are responsible for climate change.

By joining Covidence-UK, you will help us to spot, and test, the patterns and associations that could save lives. By working together, we will conquer Covid-19.”

Researchers will need to access your medical records. All your data will be encrypted and kept safe.

Follow this link to see a BBC report on the importance of the study.

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