The PPI panel had their first virtual meeting of 2021 in January. In this two-hour meeting Deb was a great Co-Chair and made sure that the panel addressed all the items on their packed agenda, through her superb and fair timekeeping. Peter Openshaw, UK-CIC Co-Chair and Lead for ISARIC 4C workstream, attended the meeting. Peter gave a positive update on the progress of UK-CIC as a whole and highlighted the consortium’s importance in of the context of recent restrictions and the vaccine rollout.
Gabriela De Sousa, Research Communications Officer for UK-CIC, updated the panel on the additions that had been made to the 'For the Public' section of the website as actioned from the December meeting. A description of PPI and its importance, as well as the presence of the panel are now more visible. Links to further informative resources on a variety of COVID-19 topics have been added to the page.
The PPI panel then had a productive session with Jennie Evans, Head of External Affairs at the BSI, where they suggested ideas for how the panel can engage with researchers and the wider public in UK-CIC activities in the upcoming months. Some themes that emerged from this part of the meeting were the importance of demonstrating to the public that COVID-19 research is not something to fear and the benefit of hearing from multiple perspectives including patients, scientists and healthcare professionals.
The panel were also joined by Mala Maini and Thushan de Silva, UK-CIC Theme 4 leads. They both gave interesting presentations on the background of Theme 4 as well as some initial data that has been generated from their research. Mala’s research group are working to understand if exposure to other coronaviruses (such as those that cause the common cold) affect how you react to SARS-CoV-2. She explained how T cells generated by a different coronavirus infection might adapt to recognise SARS-CoV-2. Thushan then described how his research group have been working to understand if any variants of SARS-CoV-2 are able to escape from our T cell immune response. Afterwards the panel put insightful their questions to the theme leads. The differences in COVID-19 susceptibility between age groups, the longevity of our immune response and the importance of monitoring not only antibodies but also T cells was discussed.
The meeting closed with the panel giving feedback through the online platform Padlet. Each piece of feedback is valuable in ensuring that the PPI input to UK-CIC is as impactful as possible.
Thank you to all the PPI Panel members for their excellent contributions and time at the meeting.