Current operational status
In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak Unit members are working from home until further notice, and all internal and external meetings are being held via video or teleconferencing.
Field testing and volunteers
All active field testing as part of our research studies that involves direct contact with volunteers has been temporarily suspended, and all volunteers who had appointments booked have been notified that they have been postponed or cancelled. For any enquiries about a study you are participating in please check the contact details for individual studies on our Study Contacts web page, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your patience at this difficult time.
The MRC Epidemiology Unit/CEDAR external seminar series has been moved online, where they are provided for free and with no need to register. You can find a list of upcoming seminars on our Events page, and you can subscribe on our online form to receive emails about future seminars and other alerts.
University of Cambridge response
University of Cambridge Coronavirus support pages can be found at www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus
Our research response
The research work of the Unit is continuing, and Unit scientists are also exploring opportunities to contribute to national efforts, both in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its broader public health consequences.
Several of our staff are now helping directly with the COVID-19 crisis, working in clinical, public health or lab testing settings, while members of our Global Public Health Research team are leading efforts to crowd-source the translation of WHO facts on Coronavirus into as many African languages as possible.
A major research undertaking is to plan the roll out of a digital platform for obtaining serial information on symptoms and signs of COVID-19 over the next year in the Fenland study with measurement of antibody status when this is available. The aim is to identify early markers of the transition from asymptomatic to symptomatic COVID-19 infection. We are also engaging in all our cohorts on pursuing record linkage with Public Health England and NHS Digital to describe the risk factors associated with COVID-19 infection and its consequences.
Our public health programmes are engaged nationally and internationally in determining the implications for diet and activity behaviours of the epidemic in terms of food security and the impact on physical activity of the social distancing restrictions.
Finally, members of our genetics programme have joined the COVID-19 host genetics initiative which aims to bring together the human genetics community to generate, share, and analyse data to learn about the genetic determinants of COVID-19 susceptibility, severity and outcomes.
Updates on ongoing Unit research related to COVID-19 and its public health consequences will be published here.
Analysis of NHS health records of 3.8 million adults yields estimate of COVID-19 mortality according to underlying conditions and age – 12 May 2020
An analysis published by a team of scientists that includes Unit researcher Dr Claudia Langenberg and colleagues at UCL, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Health Data Research UK, indicates that at least 20% of the UK population has a high-risk underlying condition for COVID-19 infection listed by Public Health England.
The authors have created a publicly accessible COVID -19 risk calculator showing how age, sex and underlying health conditions can affect mortality rates in different scenarios. They write that the analysis, which used NHS health records from 3.8 million adults in England, shows that the UK government must ensure that measures to ease the lockdown take into account this clinical vulnerability.
- Read Banerjee A, Pasea L, Harris S, Gonzalez-Izquierdo A, Torralbo A et al. Estimating excess 1-year mortality associated with the COVID-19 pandemic according to underlying conditions and age: a population-based cohort study. Lancet May 12, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30854-0
- Read the UCL News report (12 May 2020)
- OurRisk.CoV calculator
A preprint of this paper was published as a ResearchGate Rapid Communication on 22 March 2020.
- Read Rapid communication published on 22 March 2020: Spiros Denaxas, Harry Hemingway, Laura Shallcross, Mahdad Noursadeghi, Bryan Williams et al. Estimating excess 1- year mortality from COVID-19 according to underlying conditions and age in England: a rapid analysis using NHS health records in 3.8 million adults. Rapid communication 22 March 2020. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.36151.27047
- Read the UCL News report (22 March 2020)
COVID-19 prevention information translated into several widely spoken African languages
An Engage Africa Foundation translation team led by Dr Ebele Mogo, a member of the Global Diet and Activity Research (GDAR) Network, has translated information on preventing the transmission of COVID-19 into 19 languages spoken across Africa.
Select a language, click, and download at http://www.engageafricafoundation.org/covid-19
The Unit is a founding member of GDAR, which is funded through the NIHR Global Health Research initiative. GDAR`s goal is to help prevent non-communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, in low and middle income countries.
School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review – 6 April 2020
Researchers including Dr Oliver Mytton undertook a systematic review of published and pre-published studies to identify what is known about the effectiveness of school closures and other school social distancing practices during coronavirus outbreaks They conclude that school closures have much less impact on the spread of these viruses than other social distancing interventions, and recommend that policy makers need to be aware of the equivocal evidence when considering school closures for COVID-19, and consider combinations of social distancing measures.
- Read Russell M Viner, Simon J Russell, Helen Croker, Jessica Packer, Joseph Ward et al. School closure and management practices during coronavirus outbreaks including COVID-19: a rapid systematic review. Lancet Child Adolesc Health. 6 April 2020 S2352-4642(20)30095-X. DOI: 10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30095-X.
- Reported by the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, and several other UK and international news outlets.
Slum Health: Arresting COVID-19 & Improving Well-Being in Urban Informal Settlements – 5 April 2020
Dr Tolullah Oni of our Global Public Health Research programme was part of an international team of reseachers that has pre-published a set of practice and policy recommendations that aim to dampen the spread of COVID-19, improve the likelihood of medical care for the urban poor whether or not they get infected, and provide economic, social and physical improvements and protections to the urban poor that can improve their long-term well-being.
- Read Jason Corburn, David Vlahov, Blessing Mberu, Lee Riley, Waleska Teixeira Caiaffa et al. Slum Health: Arresting COVID-19 & Improving Well-Being in Urban Informal Settlements. Journal of Urban Health 2020 (in press).