NIHR Leeds MIC Supports COVID-19 Research

30 July 2020

COVID-19 Image

The NIHR Leeds MIC are supporting the local and national response to COVID-19:

  • We are helping NHS staff at the frontline
  • We are assisting the national agenda to increase the capacity for diagnostic testing


We are part of a £1.3M national partnership that aims to evaluate new COVID-19 tests

A key part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is to develop accurate tests to:

  • Identify individuals infected with SARS-Cov-2 (the virus causing COVID-19)
  • Monitor disease progression and discover if individuals have developed immunity

The life science sector responded swiftly to demand, developing over 240 CE marked tests related to COVID-19. Some tests have potential to increase the speed and convenience of testing. Due to the urgency of the situation, many tests received emergency use authorisation based on limited preliminary data. There is a need to rigorously evaluate the performance of these tests, particularly in a real-life context, so we can introduce the most effective and reliable new tests as soon as possible.  

We received funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), UK Research and Innovation, Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation to form the agile COVID-19 National DiagnOstic Research and Evaluation Platform (CONDOR) with partners across England who are experts in evaluating new diagnostic tests. The platform was recognised as a national priority by the Urgent Public Health Panel. This allows us to take a co-ordinated approach to rapidly and robustly assess new tests for COVID-19 – including ones prioritised by the government and its scientific advisors within the New Tests Approvals Group and Viral Detection Tests Approvals Group.

The Leeds MIC’s Infection Theme Lead, Professor Mark Wilcox and Dr Ashley Price, consultant in infectious diseases at Newcastle Hospitals, are leading CONDOR’s analysis of the new tests’ performance in the laboratory. 

We will assess the performance of tests outside of the controlled laboratory environment, in the real world, in a number of settings. The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will be a site for CONDOR’s evaluation of new tests.