HK$343 mn allocated for COVID-19 research
The Food and Health Bureau and the Research Council chaired by the Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee announced Monday (Sept. 13) that an additional HK$343 million has been allocated to support local universities that are conducting research studies on COVID-19.
This is the third batch of funding in addition to a total of HK$170 million approved under the Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) for 49 applications as announced on April 27 and August 5 last year, according to a government statement.
"A total of HK$513 million has been approved to support 67 COVID-19 research studies from bench to bedside and at the community level through the application of new technologies," Chan was quoted in the statement as saying.
"With the joint efforts from academia, healthcare professionals and government departments, these research studies have been contributing to our ongoing anti-pandemic efforts, thus strengthening community resilience amidst the pandemic," she added.
The 18 newly approved studies include evaluation of vaccine-induced immune response and vaccination safety for different groups, as well as comparison of the immune status in naturally infected and vaccinated cohorts; research on the role of gut microbiota in enhancing immune response to vaccination; surveys on knowledge, confidence and acceptance of vaccination and social and behavioral interventions to reduce the spread of the virus in different community groups.
The earlier studies looked into important research areas related to immune status, response to vaccination and the physical and mental consequences of "long COVID" or the persistent, delayed or long-term complications of COVID-19 infection.
"Early results of some studies show that both the Comirnaty and CoronaVac vaccines are highly effective in protecting the vaccinated population by preventing severe cases and death from COVID-19. The projections based on regular population surveys on vaccination have highlighted the need to increase vaccination uptake rates in the elderly through facilitating measures," Chan said.
"Meanwhile, genomic sequencing of mutant variants isolated from clinical and environmental samples (such as sewage) will provide useful and timely information on reviewing quarantine arrangements of local COVID-19 cases with mutant strains, vaccine performance and clinical management," she added.
Interim results of these studies will be presented by the project teams at the Health Research Symposium 2021 on Nov 23.
(With inputs from China Daily)