OSJCT steps up for ground-breaking COVID-19 antibody research
A new study into antibodies created in people who have recovered from COVID-19 will begin this month with support from The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT).
Residents and employees at 65 homes across OSJCT will join other organisations in participating in the research projects, known as Vivaldi 2, conducted by scientists at University College London (UCL). In total, 14,000 care home residents and staff will be tested quarterly for their immune response to COVID-19.
The purpose of the project is to study if we produce antibodies after suffering COVID-19 and what the implication of those antibodies might be in respect of building up immunity.
The study follows the first Vivaldi project which sought to determine how many care home staff and residents have been infected with COVID-19. This will enable the sector to develop the best approach to COVID-19 testing in the future and data was collected throughout summer and is now being analysed.
Vivaldi 2 will involve three blood samples: an initial sample, a follow-up after six weeks and a further sample at 12 weeks. For those volunteers who have returned a positive COVID-19 test during the process, further samples will be taken after six and 12 months.
Researchers will also have access to NHS information stored at the organisations data store, known as The Foundry.
OSJCT Chief Executive Dan Hayes said: “It’s vitally important that we participate in these studies and support the search for a long-term solution to this unprecedented challenge.
“We are well known for the high-standards of care that colleagues across OSJCT provide. Looking to the future and ensuring that we can return to ‘normality’ is another key element of that.”
Claire Sykes, Senior Project manager, is running the project at the Trust.
She added: “I’m proud to be coordinating the support for this important study on behalf of the Trust. Our dedicated care home colleagues, despite having unprecedented demands during this pandemic, have risen to the challenge as they always do.”
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: "Expanding this brilliant study, with the support of UCL, is another step towards improving our understanding of the virus.Testing people’s antibody reaction to COVID-19 is crucial in helping us to control the spread of the virus, particularly amongst people who are vulnerable.
"The more we know about this virus and are able to control it, the safer it will be for people in care homes."
Dr Maria Krutikov, Vivaldi Clinical Project Manager a UCL, said: “Participation in the Vivaldi study will help us estimate how many people living and working in care homes have been infected with COVID-19 and learn more about immunity following infection.
“These insights will help Government and the NHS make decisions about vaccination and will also guide decisions around care home testing and the best approaches to protect staff and residents from future infections."
Participation in the project is entirely voluntary, and consent forms from all volunteers form the vital first stage of the process. The professional who will take the blood samples, known as phlebotomists, are trained detect any signs of distress from volunteers and would halt the process in that instance.
The phlebotomists will also wear full PPE through the sample-taking and will be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
Consent gathering will be carried out during November will blood sample testing beginning in December and continuing for three months.
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