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Coronavirus: Research

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 145176, tabled on 28 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support research into new SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Answered on

5 February 2021

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has invested nearly £500 million towards 2,200 new research and innovation initiatives, both in the UK and globally. These initiatives are diverse and include research into new SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The University of Liverpool is part of a new national research project to study the effects of emerging mutations in SARS-CoV-2. Supported by £2.5 million of funding from UKRI, the G2P-UK National Virology Consortium will study how mutations in the virus affect key outcomes. This includes factors such as how transmissible the virus is, the severity of COVID-19 caused, and the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments.

The Consortium will bring together leading virologists from 10 research institutions, including the University of Liverpool. The university will work alongside the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, which plays a world-leading role in virus genome sequencing, as well as Public Health England, to boost the UK's capacity to study newly identified virus variants and rapidly inform the Government’s policy.

The current overall UKRI portfolio of COVID-19-related grants, including awards supported by Innovate UK, involves vaccine projects that provide greater diversity of approaches than for the first generation of vaccines developed. More details can be found on the UKRI website.