Author: Justine Alford

The hunt for a home coronavirus antibody test

“No test is better than a bad test,” said Matt Hancock.

While we may tire of hearing slogans, the principle here is important.

Coronavirus antibody tests have been hailed as a game-changer for the pandemic and a way forward as we traverse these uncertain times. Antibodies are Y-shaped immune molecules produced by the body in response to an infection. They latch onto the offender – such as coronavirus – in a bid to thwart it. Your body keeps a record of the encounter, so that if it comes across the same pathogen in the future, it can quickly make more antibodies and launch an effective attack.

Remote care: is digital health tech here to stay post-COVID-19?

Digital technology has been poised to transform the way that healthcare is delivered. Yet uptake and implementation has been slow; in the UK alone for example, almost a quarter of hospitals still use paper rather than electronic records.

But when COVID-19 hit, health systems were forced to rapidly adapt and use technology to deliver care remotely, where face to face appointments were no longer possible. While it’s impossible to predict when the COVID crisis will be over, will remote care become the ‘new normal’ post-pandemic? And if digital-first health technologies are here to stay, what are the implications for patients?

Newly launched IGHI research, supported by Imperial’s COVID-19 Response Fund, will explore these important questions.

Older people are no more COVID cautious

Grappling with a novel virus that reared its ugly head barely six months ago, the world is facing many uncertainties. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is proving unpredictable and the pandemic is fast-moving. But one thing we do know is that older people bear the brunt of the impacts of COVID-19. The elderly are disproportionately affected, with those over 65 accounting for some 80% of hospitalisations due to the disease. And one in five over-80s with COVID-19 will need to go to hospital, compared with one in 100 individuals under 30.

It’s people who shape our research – here’s how

Research is our bread and butter at IGHI. It lets us explore problems, ask questions, test ideas, make mistakes and learn from them. And after all that, find the right solutions to the issues we’re trying to address in healthcare.

None of this would be possible without people. But not only the brilliant researchers who are the driving force behind our progress. The patients, carers, public and healthcare professionals who devote their time to get involved and be part of our research play an invaluable role in what we do, too. It is through their knowledge and lived experience that we know we’re asking the right questions and chasing the right solutions.

Food security during COVID-19: “We must respect farmers as we do health workers”

Empty supermarket shelves have become synonymous with life amid coronavirus.

But the impact of the pandemic on food security goes far beyond the common frustrations of stockpiling driven by fear and a scarcity of pasta.

Restaurants and catering outlets have closed, food markets have drawn their shutters, social distancing and sickness have massively burdened workforces, and restrictions on movement have created a chink in the supply chain. All of this has created immense pressure on supermarkets that are having to cope with the ever-increasing demands, on farmers who are losing their clientele and are unable to distribute their produce, and on families who struggle to put food on their plates.

Life after medicine: improving healthcare away from the frontline

Right now, we’ve never been more grateful for the health and care workers who are tirelessly demonstrating their dedication to our health and wellbeing.

Supporting our health system, too, are many unsung heroes working away from the frontline. People who may have hung up their stethoscopes, but with the same determination to improve health and care.

Like Drs Jack Halligan and Natalia Kurek at IGHI, who both left medicine but are staying at the forefront of healthcare in different ways.

We caught up with Jack and Natalia to find out about their careers post-medicine, how they’re applying what they learnt in medical school, and what the COVID-19 crisis means for their roles.

The show must go on – part 1

In a matter of mere months, a new virus has completely changed the world. In the trail of destruction that coronavirus is causing, it has rudely propelled many of us into a new way of working. 

Offices have closed, laboratories shut their doors, classrooms and lecture theatres emptied. But the world has not ground to a halt – the show must go on. At IGHI, our researchers are continuing their endeavour to improve health and care. In this new series, find out how our people are adapting to working life amid coronavirus, and the unique opportunities and challenges this has presented them.