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Healthcare staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd take part in national trial to understand COVID immunity

Staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd are taking part in a national trial that aims to find out whether healthcare workers who have previously contracted COVID-19 are protected from future episodes of infection.

The trial named SIREN (Sarscov 2 Immunity & Reinfection Evaluation) is being led by Public Health England and is taking place in around 130 different sites across the UK. The study is supported by the Research Team at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board through Health and Care Research Wales.

Initial reports from the study say that antibodies from past COVID-19 infection provide 83 per cent protection against reinfection for at least five months.

At Ysbyty Gwynedd, Consultant Physician Dr Chris Subbe is the study’s Principal Investigator, and 138 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and administrative staff have been recruited into the trial.

Dr Subbe, who is also a participant on the trial, said: "Siren is set to answer one of the most important if not the most important question for COVID-19: Does infection protect from future illness and if yes for how long?

"When 100s of front-line workers have suffered COVID-infection as part of their work for the NHS we need to know how this will affect our abilities to care during coming pandemics with similar viruses."

Participants will be routinely tested every two weeks initially, with both a blood sample and nasal/throat swab being taken and analysed to see if the participant has contracted the virus and whether or not they have developed antibodies. The study follows participants for 12 months so that researchers can continue to explore how long immunity may last.

Caroline Mulvaney-Jones, Clinical Research Specialist Officer for Health and Care Research Wales, based at Ysbyty Gwynedd, said: “The Research Team are very proud and excited to be part of this trial, we have had a superb response from the staff at the hospital who have signed up to be part of this vital research.

“A lot of the participants feel as though they are giving something back and as they are getting tested on a regular basis it also gives them peace of mind.

“It’s been really interesting to see the mixture of different healthcare workers coming forward to be part of this, from admin staff to Consultants – the uptake has been fantastic.”

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Research and Development department is funded by Health and Care Research Wales, which works in partnership with the NHS, universities and stakeholders to fund, support and increase life changing research.

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said:

“Understanding immunity is another vital factor in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The SIREN study, which has recruited in seven NHS organisations in Wales, is essential so we can build a fuller picture of evidence alongside our research into treatments, vaccines and longer-term care for those recovering from the virus.

“It’s great to see that staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd are keen to take part and contribute to the study and we thank all of those who have volunteered.”