USJ Scientists to Work with Oxford Scientists who Invented COVID-19 Vaccine on Immunology Research

USJ Scientists to Work with Oxford Scientists who Invented COVID-19Vaccine on Immunology Research

The University of Sri Jayewardenepura is involved in LKR 10 mn project to support vital immunology research in respect of immune response of Covid-19 patients in different populations.

In this research to study immune responses to COVID-19, the scientists from University of Oxford and University of Sri Jayewarenapura will be analysing blood samples from healthy individuals, as well as current and recovered COVID-19 patients in both the UK and Sri Lanka, to see how different kinds of existing immunity affect disease. They are particularly interested in T cells, (a kind of white blood cell that is crucial for adapting the body’s immune response to specific pathogens), as well as antibodies (a blood protein manufactured by the body to attack specific pathogens). Current research indicates that immune responses to the novel SARS-CoV2 plays a key role in the disease outcome. However, the immune responses that lead to mild vs severe disease is still poorly understood. By comparing immune markers in blood samples from the UK versus Sri Lanka, the researchers hope to understand how existing immunity to different viruses (including other coronaviruses) might influence the immune response to a COVID-19 infection.

The study is a continuation of a successful 12 year collaboration between Professor Graham Ogg, who currently heads the MRC Human Immunology Unit at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, and Professor Neelika Malavige at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. The study is led by Professor Graham Ogg who is also a visiting Professor at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. The scientists want to bring the expertise and knowledge they’ve acquired to understand the immune responses in individuals with COVID-19. The collaborative research work on dengue carried out by this team has been published in high impact factor international journals and has received wide international recognition.

The British High Commission yesterday quoted High Commissioner Sarah Hulton as having said: “We are also delighted to announce LKR 10 million in new funding to support vital immunology research between scientists at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura who are studying the immune response of Covid-19 patients in different populations.” The following is the full text of BHC statement: “The UK hosted the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June, bringing together leaders from around the world at a virtual event to pledge their support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The Global Vaccine Summit aimed to help Gavi save up to 8 million lives over the next five years and to protect 300 million more children against infectious diseases like measles. The Global Vaccine Summit raised US$8.8 billion from 32 donor governments, 12 foundations, corporations and organisations, far exceeding the US$7.4 billion target.

“Gavi is a crucial partner in the fight against infectious diseases globally, including coronavirus. With the support of UK aid, Gavi has immunized over 760 million children in the world’s poorest countries, saving more than 133 million lives. It is critical that we maintain routine immunization during the course of the coronavirus pandemic to stop the spread of infectious diseases and the resurgence of other pandemics. The UK is proud to be Gavi’s leading donor, and on 29 April our International Development Secretary pledged the equivalent of £330 million a year over the next five years. International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The world is quite rightly focusing on responding to the invisible killer that is coronavirus. But we cannot allow this pandemic to disrupt routine immunization in some of the world’s poorest countries and cause other deadly diseases to spread across the globe.” This builds on our recent role as co-lead for the Global Coronavirus Response Initiative, which successfully raised 7.4 billion euros towards vaccines, tests and treatment to tackle the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Britain has been honoured to host this summit today. You can count on our full contribution as together we rise to fulfill the greatest shared endeavour of our lifetime – the triumph of humanity over disease, now and for the generations that follow. “As we make the choice today to unite and forge a path of global co-operation, let us also renew our collective resolve to find the vaccine that can defeat coronavirus. The UK is committed to a fully coordinated international response to mitigate the global impact of COVID-19 and prevent a pandemic of this scale in the future. We recognize the need to share lessons and work together, drawing on the best of global science and evidence.  That is why we are pleased that Sri Lanka participated in the Global Vaccine Summit.” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took part in a panel discussion on the importance of sustaining vital immunization during pandemics.

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