383 staff from The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust kindly volunteered their time to take part in a two-year COVID-19 study which is helping to understand immunity to the virus and vaccine effectiveness.
Newcastle Hospitals is one of 135 sites across the UK which is running the SIREN study. Staff taking part in the study undertake fortnightly COVID testing and attend appointments for blood tests at least every three months.
The samples from staff contribute to a national analysis to evaluate the immune response to COVID-19, build understanding of the protection offered by vaccines and provide insight into reinfections.
Dr Brendan Payne, a Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Virology at Newcastle Hospitals who led the study, said:
“We are so grateful to every member of staff who took part in the SIREN study. They kindly volunteered their time despite working through incredibly challenging circumstances.
“I also owe a huge thank you to all the teams involved in helping to set-up the study within tight timescales and while under immense pressure. The successful running of the study is testament to the teams’ hard work and commitment.”
Protecting patients and staff
William Jarrett who works as a porter at the trust signed up to the study to help protect colleagues and patients. He said:
”In such a distressing period of public unease about COVID, it made perfect sense to participate in a study which served us all by testing to ensure staff remained free of the virus or at least confirmed if we had it, to protect service users and ourselves.
“SIREN enhanced our ability to serve our patients and wider society by identifying the presence of COVID through testing and contributing to scientific understanding of the illness.”
The study has recruited almost 45,000 participants nationwide, making it the largest study of its kind globally.
Dr Payne, who is also an honorary clinical senior lecturer at Newcastle University, added:
“The SIREN study has been a vital part of monitoring rates of COVID-19 in staff throughout the pandemic and will play an important role in the coming winter months.”
Top three in the country
Newcastle Hospitals has recruited over 6,000 patients to 69 different COVID-19 studies since March 2020, placing it in the top three hospital trusts in the country for total number of urgent public health COVID studies opened and patients recruited.
The SIREN study is funded by UK Health Security Agency, the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute of Health and Care Research, with contributions from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments and funding awarded through research grants.
For further information about the study, please visit the GOV.UK website