Research funded by Science Foundation Ireland will examine why some people are more susceptible to Covid-19 than others.
Three leading immunologists from Trinity College Dublin — Kingston Mills, Luke O’Neill, and Aideen Long — will be involved in the research. Minister for Higher Education, Innovation, and Research Simon Harris announced that €4.8m will be invested in the research project.
The researchers will develop rapid antibody testing to identify Covid-19 infection in priority healthcare workers and the general community.
When the antibody testing is developed, it will be deployed in Ireland.
The research will also focus on designing effective vaccines and novel treatment approaches.
Mr Harris said science and research have never been more important.
“A virus we had never heard of seven months ago has disrupted our lives and brought the world to a standstill — and while we know a lot about Covid-19, there is still much more we need to learn,” he said.
“We need to know who is immune to the virus. We need to know why some people are more likely to contract the virus than others.
“But, crucially, we need to know what is effective in tackling it and what is effective in treating it.”
The funding will allow for 34 people to be hired for 36 months.
Meanwhile, researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) are collaborating on a landmark global study on how the public health emergency is affecting mental health.
Dr Evan Matthews from the Department of Nursing and Healthcare, and Prof John Wells, head of the school of health sciences at WIT, are collaborating with over 200 researchers and scientists around the world.
Dr Matthews is the leading investigator of the Collaborative Outcomes Study on Health and Functioning During Infection Times (COH-FIT) Ireland study.
Almost 65,000 people across the world have already answered the survey endorsed by the World Psychiatric Association.
Dr Matthews said the first tranche of results from the survey, which can be accessed at www.coh-fit.com, will be available in the next three months.
“We need to understand the impact of Covid-19 on our mental wellbeing and, in some cases that may mean having public health measures targeted at certain sectors of society that may be less resilient to the mental health risks,” he said.