COVID-19 Research

Frequently asked questions

For the latest health advice visit the NHS website or the latest Government advice. For information about prioritised COVID-19 research visit the NIHR’s website.  

In addition to the questions listed below, there are separate vaccine specific questions and answers that you might find helpful.  If you feel any important questions are missing, please contact us at bepartofresearch@nihr.ac.uk.

word coronavirus on black background

Why do we need research into COVID-19?

Research is a vital strand of the government’s strategy to tackle COVID-19. 

There is a full spectrum of research taking place around COVID-19, from the trialling of new treatments or vaccines, to examining the effects of social distancing on the spread of coronavirus and the effect of the pandemic on people’s well-being. All types of research are important in helping us to understand COVID-19 and shape our response to it.

What research is happening around COVID-19?

There are many ideas for new research that will help us to better understand the virus and develop strategies to combat it. Given that the health and care system has limited resources and capacity, it is important to prevent duplication of effort and to make sure that only the most promising research takes place.  For this reason, the NIHR has worked with the Government and other funders to establish a new single, national process that will allow the Chief Medical Officer for England and other expert advisors to prioritise the COVID-19 studies which hold the most potential for tackling the challenges we face. Some, but not all, of the nationally-prioritised research is funded and/or supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). 

To see the latest list of the government’s nationally prioritised COVID-19 research visit the NIHR website.

Who can take part in research into COVID-19?

There are a number of ways to get involved in COVID-19 research, whether you think you’ve had the coronavirus or not. Visit how to get involved in COVID-19 research for more details.

In addition, there are many studies happening for hospitalised patients, and those who are eligible will be made aware of the opportunities available to them by their healthcare team.

If you are interested in research about other health conditions, besides COVID-19, you can find out about these on this website or Join Dementia Research and People in Research websites.  There might be studies you can take part in online, as well as studies that you may be able to take part in in future. There are also many ways you can learn about health research, including on this site, and through joining the NIHR’s free online course: What is health research?. Read more about how to take part in research.

How safe is it to take part?

Safety and effectiveness are highly important in the development of any new vaccination or drug study and the UK has robust mechanisms in place to ensure studies are of high quality. You can find out more about how research is regulated to ensure it is safe.

What will taking part in coronavirus research involve?

If you take part in a vaccine study, you may or may not be offered the vaccine. Vaccines are tested to make sure they're safe before being tested in people.

You'll need to visit the hospital, or other research site, a few times over 6 to 12 months.

At these visits, you should:

  • be told about the research study
  • have the chance to ask any questions
  • have blood tests

Between visits, you'll be asked to tell the research team about any symptoms you have. You may also be asked to self-monitor at home, for example by doing swabs or keeping an e-diary. There are many different types of research taking place to tackle COVID-19. Here's how to get involved.