UCL: Project to track impact of Covid-19 variants globally

The three-year project, known as END-VOC (ENDing COVID-19 Variants Of concern through Cohort studies), will draw on data from 28 already established cohort studies in 23 countries, working with 19 partners around the world.

Professor Ibrahim Abubakar (Dean, UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences), who is principal investigator of the study, said: “Detecting emerging Covid-19 variants of concern, and understanding their implications on diagnostics, vaccination strategies and treatment options is key to guiding our response to the virus.

“Our objective is to add new knowledge on these variants by bringing together cohorts in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia and collaborating with other consortia to achieve impact beyond Europe and beyond Covid-19.”

The three-year project will focus on five key areas: i) detecting and characterising emerging viral variants; evaluating their capacity to ii) evade vaccine-induced immunity or cause reinfections, iii) escape current treatments, iv) cause long Covid; as well as v) providing recommendations to better prepare and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks.

The study will use new tools to predict how SARS-CoV-2 variants might evolve, when these variants are likely to cause long Covid, and how they might affect different groups of people. By evaluating the impact of new variants on the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments, the research will seek to guide responses to future outbreaks.

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