This is a live blog which will continue to be updated as further information and guidance becomes available.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the breadth of our health system and beyond. We know that this is a deeply challenging time for our members, patients and the public.  

It’s a fast-changing situation and the intention of this blog is to keep AMRC members up to date on what’s happening across the health and medical research sector, including how we’re working to provide support and signposts to key guidance as its issued 

This blog will be updated continually as new guidance is published and the situation develops.  

Throughout this period AMRC will:   

  • support our members with an online forum to share information and experiences; 
  • signpost and collate our members’ guidance on the impact to the research they fund; and 
  • act as a channel of communication to share sector views with government and other key bodies.  

We have published a statement on the challenges to research during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting our members 

AMRC have identified three main ways that COVID-19 is affecting our members: impact on the research that charities fund; impact on the communities represented and supported by many charities; and impact on the ways that charities work.  

To support with these issues, we’ve created an online forum for our members and supporters to share information, questions and concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on research, patients and organisations. If you would like to join the group, please sign up here.

AMRC has been asked by government to provide evidence to demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 on the research funded by medical research charities. Thank you to those that were able to complete our survey with such short notice. This evidence will support our calls for appropriate measures to protect the sector and beyond.

Walso want to support our members in these difficult times by spreading positivity where we can. Our twitter page @AMRC will continue to provide key information and member updates but we’ll also be sharing light-hearted posts to try to keep us all upbeat!    

Whilst physical distancing from others by working from home will be the new norm for the majority of us, we want to maintain social connections with our members during this isolating time. We have decided to move some of our events to a virtual format to continue to enable our members and supporters to come together, learn and collaborate. If you are interested to hear more about the events we will be running or would like some guidance on moving your own events online you can contact our Events Manager, Gill.

‘One stop shop’ for health and medical research sector guidance 

As the impact of COVID-19 becomes more understood, key organisations and sector bodies are publishing statements and guidanceWe’ve collated the most important information below to help our members keep up to date on what they need to know. We’ll regularly be refreshing this list to ensure it reflects the latest guidance.  

Organisation  

Guidance  

Relevance for medical research charities  

Department of Health and Social Care/ National Institute for Health Research

Updated 26 March 2020

Statement on the new national process to prioritise COVID-19 research

Guidance on how to get priority funding for COVID-19 urgent public health research

A new funding scheme to prioritise COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Research, gathering evidence to inform national policy and help develop new diagnostic tests and treatments.

 

Updated 19 March 2020

Guidance on the impact on COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR 

Until further notice, the NIHR Clinical Research Network is pausing the site set up of any new or ongoing studies that are not nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies.

Updated 27 March 2020

Q&A on the impact of COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR 

Information on pausing a study and the financial implications.  

Health Research Authority

Published 6 April 2020

COVID-19 research

All Health Research Authority COVID-19 research guidance including guidance for undertaking research, using patient data and applying for fast-track approval. 

 

Information Commissioner's Office 

Data protection and coronavirus: what you need to know 

Includes homeworking situations and notifying staff if a colleague has contracted the virus. 

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Published 12 March 2020

Advice for Management of Clinical trials in relation to Coronavirus 

Regulation of clinical trials when impacted by COVID including protocol and standard operating procedure deviations. 

Royal College of Physicians

Published 19 March 2020

Clinical academics and COVID-19

Joint statement from research funders for clinical academics.

The Charity Commission

 

Updated 31 March 2020

Coronavirus guidance for the charity sector

Guidance to help charity trustees to determine what assistance with COVID-19 can be provided and what the long term implications of such action could be.

University College London

Updated 3 April 2020

COVID-19 - Impact on Research Funding

Provides links to UCL’s major research funder’s guidance on coronavirus and advice for researchers.

UK Research and Innovation

 

Published 30 March 2020

Coronavirus: the science explained

A new webpage to lay out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic, and its control.

 

Updated 3 April 2020

Impact of Coronavirus on UKRI-supported research 

Outline of UKRI’s approach including brief information on grant costs.

The Department of Health and Social Care has added new restrictions to the export of more than 80 medicines. This will ensure that there's an uninterrupted supply of medicines for NHS hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

The Health Research Authority has introduced an additional step in its normal transparency arrangements, to ensure that information about COVID-19 related research is made public as quickly as possible. Summary information about each COVID-19 research project is on their website.

Legal aspects of COVID-19

Simmons & Simmons, an international law firm, have a dedicated section on their website with links to resources about the legal aspects of COVID-19.

What are medical research charities doing to support the progression of COVID-19 research? 

We’re aware that a number of our members are working to support the global R&D effort to tackle COVID-19.  

Initiatives underway include:    

How are medical research charities helping the national reponse to the crisis?

Charity-funded researchers and research facilities are using their expertise and resources to help in the national response to the crisis however they can. This includes providing desperately needed equipment to the NHS and supporting diagnostic testing of healthcare professionals.

AMRC member responses 

A number of our members have published positions on the impact of COVID-19 for their grant applicants and grantholders as well as their patient communities. We’ll update this list as more charities publish guidance.

Organisation

Guidance

Summary of response

Alzheimer's Research UK Position statement for researchers
  • All applications currently under review will be discussed at the charity's Grant Review Board meeting in January 2021.
  • Alzheimer's Research UK currently plan to open new rounds for funding in the Autumn.
  • Any disruptions to research funding activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be taken into consideration by the charity's Board to make appropriate adjustments when assessing researchers' record of outputs, research achievements, and career progression.

Alzheimer's Society

 

Published 25 March 2020

Managing the impact of Coronavirus on grants

  • Contingency plans being developed to support research completion.
  • Flexibility with no-cost extensions, underspend and virements.
  • Clinicians returning to frontline to have salaries covered by NHS.
  • Cost extensions considered case by case at end date of projects.

Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership

 

Published 27 March 2020

COVID-19 Update for Researchers

COVID-19 – Message from the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership

  • Advice on key AUK and BLF funds and grants.
  • Requests email contact for no-cost extensions to grant awards.
  • Increased flexibility in how research funds can now be used.
  • Will pay salaries if research institutions shut down for a period of time.
  • Costed extensions to be considered on case by case basis.

Bone Cancer Research Trust

Published 1 April 2020

Charity statement - Changes to research grant programme

  • All applications submitted to the current or recently closed funding calls will be considered as agreed, with the hope of these being discussed in July and awarded by the end of the year
  • If projects can no longer proceed due to the closure of a university or clinical laboratory, the Trust will look to minimise the impact wherever possible. They will offer increased flexibility across their grants to enable researchers to manage their award.

British Heart Foundation

Statement on Coronavirus and research grants

  • If research institutions shut down for a period of time, BHF will continue to pay the salaries of staff funded on grants for the same duration.
  • If clinical research staff funded on grants are asked to support front line NHS staff, BHF will also continue to pay salaries, recognising that these costs may be subsequently recoverable from the NHS.
  • Prepared to support requests for no cost extensions to grants to cover any delays caused by the suspension of research.
  • If suspension of research is prolonged and costed extensions are required BHF will consider requests on a case by case basis.

Cancer Research UK  

Published 17 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for grant applicants and grantholders 

  • All panels and committees deferred until Autumn.  
  • Default position to offer a no-cost extension if needed.  
  • Includes clinical academics called back to the front line. 
  • Increased flexibility for grant holders.  

 

Updated 18 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and cancer 

  • Information for patients page now includes text on clinical trials. 

Diabetes UK

 

Published 30 March 2020

Guidance for Grant Holders

  • Researchers should return to clinical practice with full support.
  • PIs should make contact if award suspension needed.
  • No-cost extensions supported.
  • Costed extensions considered case by case.
  • Ongoing clinical trials require risk evaluation before continuing.

 

Published 26 March

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - advice for people with diabetes

 

  • Guidance on a range of key issues affecting thoe with Diabetes, including symptoms, self-isolating, and interactions with healthcare professionals.

Dunhill Medical Trust

Circulated to researchers 12 March 2020

Grant award management for academic and clinical researchers

  • All affected awards considered on case-by-case basis with costed and uncosted extensions made available.
  • Fully supportive of researchers called to front line. Will provide costed or uncosted extensions, depending on circumstances. 
  • Not currently taking applications for new awards.  Applications already in the system and awaiting a decision will hear the outcome per the originally agreed timetables.

Fight For Sight

 

Published 27 March 2020

Guidance to grant holders

  • No planned change to the grant schedule for 2020/2021.
  • Use 'No cost extension' request form where needed.
  • Immediate contact urged for cost extensions, a policy for which is being developed.
Society for Endocrinology

 

Updated 1 April 2020

COVID-19 guidance for Society Grants and Awards holders

  • Flexibility with no-cost extensions and project start dates.
  • Final report deadlines extendable as needed on case by case basis.
 

Updated 1 April 2020

COVID-19 resources for managing endocrine conditions

  • Guidance for clinicians (not for patient use) on range of endocrine conditions and key actions during the crisis.
 

Updated 1 April 2020

Adrenal Crisis Information

  • Advice statement on keeping adrenal insufficiency patients safe during the crisis.

The Stroke Association

Circulated to researchers 13 MARCH 2020

Research Awards and COVID-19 Arrangements

  • Will review any extension requests on a case-by-case basis to agree a solution at an appropriate time.
  • Researchers asked to explore alternative solutions such as remote working, teleconference meetings or re-ordering parts of their study.
  • For grants which are in the early stages or have an appropriate stop point, grant holders can delay recruitment of staff or put the award into abeyance for a period.

Versus Arthritis

Published 20 March 2020

COVID-19 - Message from Stephen Simpson, Director of Research, Versus Arthritis 

  • Will support any local decision to move research personnel to front line duties and will work with teams after the crisis to explore ways for research projects to be reinstated.
  • Recommend that any clinical research that has been recently award but not yet started, delay the start date to adjust to the possibility of not being able to recruit.
  • Will be flexible on the use of underspend and budget virements to cover any exceptional and additional cost incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep research activities going.
  • Will offer no-cost extensions to awards if needed. 
  • Where costed extensions are necessary, these will be considered on a case by case basis as required.
  • Current open calls and any future planned activity, including planned peer review of active calls will be paused.

Wellcome  

 

Updated 19 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for grant applicants and grantholders 

  • Funding schemes and calls remain open for applications. 
  • Will pay salary and running costs in some situations if researchers are called to the front line.  
  • For other affected grants will consider extension or supplements.