How to get involved in COVID-19 research

Research is vital to tackle COVID-19

Photo of Arlene Lee, Research Nurse

COVID-19 is a new disease so we need to find out as much as we can about it, as quickly as possible. 

This page provides information about the ways to take part in research depending on if you have, have previously had or have never had COVID-19 symptoms. 

Over 100,000 UK participants have now enrolled in COVID-19 urgent public health research supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - at NHS hospitals and care settings across the United Kingdom.

You can see what COVID-19 research is happening across the country here. If you are looking at the research, please remember the following important points:

  1. All research studies have criteria about who can and can’t take part so it’s important to read about this in the section called ‘Who can take part’ to see if you think a study might be right for you
  2. Many COVID-19 research studies are being run in hospitals only so you can’t apply to them from home. However, it is still useful to read about them to understand the types of studies you could be invited to take part in if you have to go to hospital with COVID-19.
  3. Most research studies are not run in every part of the country. Each study will be run in specific areas.  Check : ‘Where you can take part’ or ‘Cities/Towns’ to check if it is running in your area. 

If you can’t find a study to take part in at the moment, then reading about the research taking place, and talking to your friends and family about your own feelings about taking part in research, as well as encouraging them to find out about research is an effective way to spread the message.

Contacting the COVID-19 research teams

If you think a study is right for you and it’s running in your area then you could contact the study team for more information. Their information can be found under the ‘Ask to Take Part’ button. If the study does not have this button, it means they have asked for this to be removed as they are not accepting email enquiries at this time. 

The study teams are receiving many enquiries, as well as supporting the delivery of the research so a quick response cannot always be guaranteed.  

Unfortunately, Be Part of Research is unable to follow up with study teams if you don’t receive a response.

COVID-19 studies suitable for everybody

There are also studies, for example those that are taking place on apps - such as the COVID Symptom Tracker (download the app here) that most adults can take part in.

If you have never had coronavirus

Look out for studies on this site that need healthy volunteers, including some of the studies developing vaccines for COVID-19. People without a diagnosis are needed for many research studies. You could be a family or friend of someone with a diagnosis. Find out more.

Why not take the opportunity to learn about research, why it’s important and the steps taken to protect your safety? There are other ways to get involved.

If you are more vulnerable to COVID-19 (perhaps if you are from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic community, or have a condition such a diabetes), it is important to read about the sort of research happening and consider if you would want to take part should you become unwell with COVID-19. Many studies are only open to those who are unwell, so being aware of those, and giving thought to whether you would be interested in taking part as well as considering any questions you might have, is a really helpful step forward.

If you have more questions about COVID-19 or taking part in COVID-19 research read our FAQs.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

The PRINCIPLE study is for people aged 65 or over with symptoms of COVID-19 and  those aged 50 to 64 with symptoms of COVID-19 and other specific health conditions - which are all listed on their website - now offers participants who meet this criteria to be screened online to see if they can take part. Find out more about this study and complete the online screening on the study website.

Other studies may also be interested in hearing from people who have had COVID-19 symptoms, check the ‘Who can take part’ information within the studies on this site.

If you get COVID-19 and need treatment in hospital

There are still no licensed treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, but over ten thousand people have already taken part in trials of new treatments in the UK over the last few weeks. We need more research volunteers to help the NHS understand what works and what doesn’t, and how best to use new medicines and treatments for COVID-19. 

This might mean having a swab or giving a blood sample, answering a questionnaire or having someone look at your healthcare records.

  • A doctor or nurse may ask you to take part in research. 
  • You can also ask the healthcare team looking after you if this is an option. 

You might want to think about whether you would like to take part if this was right for you and speak to your family about it so they know your wishes in advance if you get ill or need to go into hospital. 

You can find information about specific COVID-19 studies, including those taking place in hospitals here

If you have had COVID-19 and recovered

A number of studies are particularly interested in hearing from people who have had COVID-19, learning about them and their experiences. One study is looking at the genetics of people who have been very poorly with it, needing intensive care in hospital. To register your interest, please visit this site. You may be asked to give blood for research. If you agree, the NHS can find out if your blood can help other people fight coronavirus. 

The NHS Blood and Transplant service needs people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood plasma. The plasma will contain antibodies and the trial will determine how effective this is in helping people seriously ill with COVID-19.  You can find out more and register on their website

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