Monday 06 April 2020


Research is central to understanding, treating, and preventing COVID-19.

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is pausing the site set up of any new or ongoing studies at NHS and social care sites that are not nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies. This will enable the research workforce to focus on delivering the nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies or enabling redeployment to frontline care where necessary.

These studies are enabling the clinical and epidemiological evidence to be gathered to inform national policy and will enable new treatments, diagnostics and vaccines to be developed and tested. The complete focus of the NIHR Clinical Research Network will be on delivering these highest priority COVID-19 studies.


Research Ethics Committee review is a vital component of COVID-19 research. It cannot be done retrospectively, so it is important to get this before you start your research. Studies without a favourable research ethics opinion may not be published by a journal and may not confirm to research governance standards.

Applying for ethics review of your COVID-19 study does not take long and the HRA can provide support throughout the process.

If you are not sure whether your project is classed as research, please use the HRA decision tool.


Research transparency is even more important at this time. It ensures researchers and sponsors know about other studies taking place across the UK and creates important visibility for the public, health and social care professionals and policy makers.

The HRA have introduced an additional step in their normal transparency arrangements, on behalf of the four nations, 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.


The NHS Health Research Authority (HRA) is working to ensure that new COVID-19 research studies can start as quickly as possible while maintaining high standards of research practice.

The HRA is using a fast-track review process with bespoke advice and support for researchers. The average review timeline is 5 days, with many completed within 24 to 72 hours.

They have updated the information on their website about the fast-track review process, guidance for researchers, sites and sponsors, guidance about using confidential patient data without consent, and information about how we are handling other types of research.

The HRA review takes place in parallel with the Chief Medical Officer’s prioritisation process for COVID studies.

There is a list of approved studies on the HRA website.


There are new funding calls being announced specifically for COVID-19 research. Check out our funding calls page for up to date information on relevant funding calls.