Second Anniversary of COVID-19 SIREN Study

20th July 2022
SIREN Participant

South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust staff remain dedicated to the fight against COVID-19 by continuing to take part in the largest Covid Research Project in the world – SIREN.

182 staff have committed to participating for a further year which means the South Eastern Trust has the highest number of staff taking part in this vital study in Northern Ireland.

The aim of the project is to study COVID-19 immunity levels and the impact of detectable anti SARS-COV2 antibodies in healthcare workers and to understand whether prior infection with SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) protects against future infection with the same virus.

SIREN has provided valuable evidence about immunity following SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination. It has also supplied surveillance data on infection and emerging variants.

In January 2021 the first analysis of protection following SARS-CoV-2 infection was published.  The analysis showed that reinfection was possible, but that there was an over 80% reduction in infection among people who had previously contracted COVID-19 compared to those who had not.

In Spring 2021, when the Alpha variant was dominant in the UK and Northern Ireland, the first analysis of the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination showed that protection against infection 21 days after the first dose was 70% and rose to 85%, 7 days after the second dose was received.

In February 2022 the study looked at protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection following both previous infection and vaccination. It found that in previously uninfected individuals, 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were associated with high short-term protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection but that this protection reduced considerably after 6 months. Among those with a previous infection, vaccination appeared to boost their immunity, providing strong and longer lasting protection. This provided important insights for COVID-19 vaccination programmes.

Yuri Protashick, Prinicpal Investigator SIREN StudyPrincipal Investigator SIREN and Consultant Microbiologist at the South Eastern Trust, Dr Yuri Protaschik,  said, The SARS-CoV2 immunity and reinfection evaluation study (SIREN) is a unique, large scale research involving healthcare workers. It is a national core study that provides vital insight into immunity and vaccine effectiveness. The Siren study was established at the start of the pandemic and now we proudly celebrate our 2-year anniversary!”

Yuri added, “I would like to thank all the participants for their dedication and commitment to this project and for their invaluable contribution to World science. As issues around COVID-19 are evolving and key questions still need to be answered, the study has been extended for another year.  With fortnightly PCR testing and monthly blood samples required, it is not an easy task, but our staff have stepped up to the mark to participate in this important piece of research.”

The SIREN study is a unique, UK-wide partnership with Health & Social Care staff providing an agile response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the national core studies established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) urgent priority study. SIREN has received recognition from senior leaders nationally including Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) and continues to help inform the pandemic response at a national level.

The South Eastern Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive, Nicki Patterson, who has participated in the SIREN study for the past two years and will continue to be involved in the project, says, “I am very committed to this vital research which we all hope will help in the battle against Covid-19. I am delighted but not surprised that so many members of staff in our Trust regularly give up their time to try and help others.”