A £1 million grant will fund Oxford’s research into the immunity of recovered COVID-19 patients.

The University of Oxford Medical Science will research the strength of antibody response in recovered patients and how long immunity may last.

The project will be led by Professor Paul Klenerman, whose team has also worked on the immune response to diseases such as HIV.

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The University has partnered with Oxford University Hospitals to test thousands of healthcare workers. Those who test positive will take part in further research to understand their immunity to the virus.

The findings will help communities understand how to deal with the pandemic while a vaccine is not available. The data will be used by Oxford professor Sarah Walker, who is working with the Office for National Statistics on the COVID-19 Infection Survey. The Survey tracks the spread of coronavirus throughout the UK.

Gavin Screaton, Head of the Medical Sciences Division, said: “There are still many unanswered questions relating to COVID-19 immunity and the scientists and their teams hope to deliver information in the coming months which will better our understanding of the virus and help the government work out how to manage the pandemic moving forwards and protect the NHS from being overwhelmed.”

Research has shown that some recovered patients could be re-infected within a year. A recent study found that immunity against infection may last for at least five to seven months.

The research is being funded by a £1 million grant from the Huo Family Foundation.. A statement from the Foundation said “thousands of lives could be saved” through the research. Since 2009, it has donated over $41 million to projects in the UK, US, and China. The Foundation has previously funded research at Oxford into young people’s mental health in the digital age.