New Medical Schools Council report highlights Leicester’s COVID-19 research

The real-world impact of Leicester research into COVID-19 and its effects has been commended by the Medical Schools Council.

A new report, published today (Wednesday), highlights the contribution of UK universities conducting essential research that has helped the UK lead the global scientific response.

Leicester studies identified by the report include the largest national research study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19.

The PHOSP-COVID study, supported with funding from the Department of Health and Social Care, seeks to understand the health needs for patients hospitalised with the virus, and the long-term effects of so-called ‘long-COVID’. The study is led by the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL), with input from the Universities of Oxford, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Imperial College London, and King’s College London.

The Medical Schools Council report also recognises the impact of UK-REACH (UK Research study into Ethnicity And COVID-19 outcomes in Healthcare workers) work, which is investigating why people from ethnic minority backgrounds have a higher risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and also developing severe COVID-19, with twice the risk of death compared to the White population. The study is jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Professor Thompson Robinson, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Life Sciences at the University of Leicester, said: “Recognition of Leicester research in this significant report is testament to the ground-breaking work undertaken by colleagues at the University of Leicester and UHL throughout the pandemic.

“Our researchers have played a key role in asking – and in many cases finding the answers – to the biggest questions related to one of the largest healthcare challenges in a generation.

“I am immensely proud of the work undertaken so far, but we are acutely aware that the challenges posed by COVID-19 have not gone away: new variants, long-term effects of long-COVID and the pandemic’s impact on other clinical research are at the forefront of our minds, and we will continue this essential work for as long as it is needed.”

Professor Malcolm Reed, Co-Chair of the Medical Schools Council, said: “COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges but this report showcases some of the fantastic and vital work that help us develop effective approaches to prevent and treat this disease. Importantly, the pandemic has shown what can be achieved through collaboration and clear purpose and we must ensure we maintain a vibrant and sustainable research base through collaboration between universities and the NHS.

“We are indebted to all those researchers who have worked tirelessly to tackle this pandemic and we must work together to ensure they can continue to work in an environment where science and innovation can flourish.”

Professor John Atherton, Co-Chair of the Medical Schools Council, added: “It is heartening to see the variety of work that is being conducted across the UK and I note that this is only a small cross-section of the considerable research underway. Research into COVID-19 remains an essential task to help the world recover from the pandemic, however COVID-19 has severely disrupted the ability to continue important ongoing research into other health conditions.

“It will be important that as we restart non-COVID research, clear support and guidance which recognises the current extreme pressures facing the NHS is available to aid this recovery. This includes allowing time and support for clinical academics in training, who are a vital part of the research workforce, by ensuring that they are able to continue with their career progression.”

The University of Leicester is a proud member of the Medical Schools Council, which is the representative body for medical schools across the UK. The Council is formed from the heads of UK medical schools and meets in order to shape the future of medical education in the UK.

Responding to a pandemic: UK Universities’ research into COVID-19’ is available in full at