One year on since the first COVID-19 research studies were approved – a blog by Naho Yamazaki, Head of Policy and Engagement

Last updated on 16 Mar 2021

Naho Yamazaki, Head of Policy and Engagement, blogs about the UK’s remarkable research effort against COVID-19 and talks about what needs to happen next so that everyone can see the findings from all UK health and social care research that involves people.

Naho Yamazaki, Head of Policy and Engagement

'As we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown, like many people I have been reflecting on life over the past year.

At the Health Research Authority, back on 17 March 2020 we approved a study titled Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy, the now widely known RECOVERY trial, that found that dexamethasone reduces the risk of dying by one third in ventilated patients.

Since then over 800 studies have been reviewed by Research Ethics Committees, most of them through the fast-track process, with some getting an outcome in as little as 24 hours. This simply wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our HRA staff as well as the volunteer Research Ethics Committee members who helped us play our part in ensuring that vital research is set up at speed.

We also made sure that information on COVID-19 research is published on our website within days of approval. You can see a short summary of what the research plans to do and a reference number of its entry into a public registry, when this is provided by the researcher, so that you can find further details and track its progress.

We encouraged researchers to check this site when developing their proposal to help avoid duplication of efforts and collaborate with others where appropriate; a good practice at the best of times but vital when the health and care services that support many research studies were stretched to the limit.

More than that, we wanted to provide a resource where anyone could identify COVID-19 research happening in the UK that involves patients or the public. This is in line with our Make It Public research transparency strategy, published last year, where we make a commitment to provide accessible information of approved research, including a summary of the results. I believe such transparency, together with robust ethical review and other regulatory checks, is essential for people to have trust in research and support them in making important decisions such as getting the vaccine against COVID-19.

The UK’s research effort against COVID-19 has been remarkable and we have heard much of the findings in the media and through excellent information provided by organisations such as the National Institute for Health Research. We now want to work with researchers so that you can see the findings from all UK health and social care research that involves people, including on COVID-19, in one place.'

Naho Yamazaki, Head of Policy and Engagement
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