Edinburgh ‘pop up’ blood donation centre to open for ‘groundbreaking’ Covid-19 study

A scheme to roll out ‘pop up’ blood donation centres across Scotland to help support a unique Covid-19 research study has been launched.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 7:00 am
The first donation centres are due to open on Friday, allowing eligible volunteers to donate a blood sample at the temporary, COVID-secure centre at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton Hotel in North Bridge.

The unique GenOMICC Covid-19 study analyses the genes of people who have had the virus to discover why some experienced no symptoms while others became extremely ill. The study is already contributing to the fight again Covid, with preliminary results helping identify possible new treatments.

However, for the study to continue to make progress and generate meaningful results, the scientists urgently need to recruit more people from all backgrounds across Scotland – but are especially seeking the help of members of Scotland’s South Asian and Pakistani communities.

From Friday March 5, eligible volunteers will be able to donate a blood sample at temporary, Covid-secure centres at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton Hotel in North Bridge and participants in Glasgow can donate at Mercure Glasgow City Hotel in Ingram Street

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If they don’t wish to travel, the scheme also offers volunteers the option of making an appointment for a nurse to visit their home.

Dr Kenneth Baillie, the study’s chief investigator said: “We’re issuing an urgent appeal for more volunteers from all walks of life – and in particular for people from South Asian and Pakistani communities – to come forward and register.

“We need to find people who tested positive for Covid but experienced either mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment. For comparison purposes, it’s important that these volunteers are similar in age, gender and ethnicity of those people who were severely affected and hospitalised.

“Through my work as a consultant in intensive care in Edinburgh, I’ve met many patients and their families who have agreed to participate in this research to help others, at one of the most difficult times in their lives.”

Local Muslim communities have backed the scheme, with leaders in both cities helping distribute thousands of information leaflets and posters – translated into Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, and Punjabi – to its members.

They took the decision to get involved after researchers in the medical study issued an urgent cry for help to the country’s ethnic and minority communities.

“Tragically, the pandemic’s effect has been more widely felt among all ethnic communities so it’s important we help those who are making such an important contribution in the fight against Covid,” said Irfan Razzaq, general secretary at Glasgow Central Mosque.

“The results from the study will not only help us here in Scotland, they’ll be shared internationally and offer more protection to some of the most vulnerable groups of people around the world.”

Professor Sir Mark Caulfied, chief scientist at Genomics England added: “The quicker this research can be completed, the faster we can solve the Covid puzzle and protect vulnerable people.

“Genetic research into Covid-19 is now playing an increasingly important role in our fight against the virus, enabling us to identify new forms of the virus and develop treatments.

“The findings from the GenOMICC Covid-19 Study will improve the treatment, care and outcome for those most at risk, as well as helping to prioritise future vaccinations and lower the number of deaths.”

The research project is open to anyone who tested positive to Covid but experienced mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment – volunteers can register online here.

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