Covid-19 research at ESHT

Covid-19 is a new illness that can affect lungs and airways. As it is a new disease we need to find out as much as we can about it, as soon as possible. Research allows us to answer questions about Covid-19.

By gathering information about a disease we can find ways of diagnosing it faster and better ways of looking after and treating people with the disease.

Why do we need research into Covid-19?

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was no established treatment for Covid-19. But due to the research since then there is some early evidence that certain licensed drugs for other diseases help in improve outcomes in Covid-19 patients. Hence these drugs are being used to treat some of the Covid-19 patients in some of these studies (called interventional studies). Other ‘observational’ studies don’t alter treatment but collect blood samples and information about the patient to learn more about Covid-19. Such studies have no added risk, do not bring immediate benefit now, but will help doctors and scientists to better understand Covid-19.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is currently involved in a number of Covid-19 research studies. Many of these are categorised as an ‘Urgent Public Health Research’ studies by the Department of Health and Social Care.


This national clinical trial aims to identify treatments that may be beneficial for people hospitalised with suspected or confirmed Covid-19.

Local Principal Investigator – Dr Andrew Marshall, Consultant Cardiologist

The RECOVERY-RS trial will compare the effectiveness of three ventilation methods;

  1. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP):this treatment applies mild to high air pressure on a continuous basis through a tightly fitted face mask. It keeps the airways continuously open in people who are able to breathe normally on their own, but need help keeping their airway clear.
  2. High flow nasal oxygen (HFNO):this is a way of giving humidified (moistened) and warmed oxygen through tubes into the nose. The oxygen is delivered very quickly to help patients who have low oxygen levels and find breathing on their own difficult.
  3. Standard care:standard treatment will involve oxygen delivered via a normal face mask or tubes in the nose.

Local Principal Investigator – Dr Osei Kankam, Consultant Respiratory Physician

This study aims to find the genes that cause susceptibility to Covid-19 in critical care patients.

Local Principal Investigator – Dr Judith Highgate, Consultant ICU and Anaesthetics

The PAN-COVID study is a global registry of women with suspected COVID-19 or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy and their neonates; understanding natural history to guide treatment and prevention.

Local Principal Investigator – Nicky Mason – Consultant Midwife/h5>

An Observational study of Recovery from critical illness in the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Local Principal Investigator – Dr Judith Highgate, Consultant ICU and Anaesthetics

The PRIEST study aims to optimise the triage of people using the emergency care system (111 and 999 calls, ambulance conveyance, or hospital emergency department) with suspected respiratory infections during a pandemic and identify the most accurate triage method for predicting severe illness among patients attending the emergency department with suspected respiratory infection.

Local Principal Investigator – Dr Shayma Habeeb, Chief of Emergency Medicine and Consultant Emergency Medicine

The UK Obstentrics Surveillance System (UKOSS) is collecting data from pregnant women who have a COVID-19 diagnosis to help understand more about how the virus may affect women and infants.

Local Principal Investigator – Liz Still, Head of Research

Full title: Clinical Characterisation Protocol for Severe Emerging Infection
ISARIC are an international consortium (a network of networks) who investigate novel pathogens causing severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) and emerging infections of public health importance. In the UK this observational study is led by the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford.

Local Principal Investigator – Vikki Carruth, Director of Nursing

This study looks at physician responses to disease flares and patient adaptation in relation to events in Inflammatory Bowel Disease during COVID-19 pandemic: A multi-centre cohort analysis.

Local Principal Investigator – Dr Steven Fong, Consultant Gastroenterology

This study for Covid-19 Pandemic response of assessment, endoscopy and treatment in Acute Severe Ulcerative Colitis. A multi center observational observational case-control study.

Local Principal Investigator – Dr Steven Fong, Consultant Gastroenterology

There are also studies taking place on apps such as:

that most adults can take part in from our colleagues at Kings College London and Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals