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Public involvement in a pandemic

Last updated on 12 Jan 2021

The rapid response of the research community to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to new studies being set up far quicker than they had ever been before, and our fast-track approvals service for urgent COVID-19 research has reduced the average research review timelines for these studies by 90%.

In March 2020 we heard that networks and groups of public contributors across the UK had noticed a marked drop-off in the numbers of opportunities to get involved in research. This feedback chimed with our own analysis which showed that the rate of public involvement in research studies submitted for approval dropped sharply for COVID-19 research, despite other aspects of good practice remaining in place.

In response to this fall in public involvement in COVID-19 research, we collaborated with partner organisations from the NHS, university, and charity sectors to set up the UK COVID-19 public involvement matching service. The matching service allows researchers planning urgent COVID-19 research which is eligible for fast-track review to access public involvement support if they do not have existing suitable public involvement connections.

On 13 January 2021 we published a report summarising the impact of the UK COVID-19 public involvement matching service. You can read it in the Public Involvement section of our website.

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