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€2 million investment into National Irish Covid-19 Biobank

By Paul Mulholland - 27th Jul 2021

Coronavirus cells in an electron microscope. 3D illustration

An investment of €2 million investment will be made into the new National Irish Covid-19 Biobank (NICB), it has been announced.

Established by the Health Research Board at the request of the Department of Health, the biobank is designed to ensure that Covid-19 samples/data are collected in a coordinated and harmonised manner, and that a mechanism is established to ensure access for researchers. It is hoped the biobank will create greater opportunity for research and innovation to increase the understanding of Covid-19, inform new treatment and management strategies, improve outcomes for patients, and better prepare the country for future emergencies.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “The Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021 Plan for Living with Covid-19 firmly acknowledges that coordinated research and innovation, both nationally and internationally, is critical to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and future threats. Indeed, it specifically highlights the need for ‘infrastructure to support biorepository studies’, as this is key for research that translates into better patient care and outcomes, as well as population health strategies.”

“The NICB is exactly this kind of infrastructure, and I welcome it as another world-class example of Irish researchers and clinicians collaborating so that research plays an even stronger role in the fight against Covid-19. Notably, the NICB provides an opportunity to prospectively investigate issues such as emerging variants and the increasing prevalence of long Covid. I am also very pleased by plans for significant public and patient involvement in its work – this is critical for maintaining public trust and ensuring continued participation and support for research in Ireland, and chimes perfectly with the increasing public sentiment of ‘nothing about us without us’.”

Director of Research Strategy and Funding at the HRB, Dr Teresa Maguire, said: “This is a significant milestone, not just in response to Covid-19, but as the first government investment in biobanking, which should unlock vast research and innovation potential. This investment is embedded in existing national health research infrastructure, is integrated into the healthcare system, and is guided by principles of transparency, inclusiveness and accessibility. It will act as a key driver of national, all-island and international collaboration. Furthermore, progress and learning from the NICB model will inform future public investment in biobanking in other important health areas beyond Covid-19.”

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