UCD Covid-19 Response

The UCD Community is rising to the challenge posed by the global pandemic

Innovation, collaboration and patient-focused research


Coronavirus Disease 19 (Covid-19), caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and has led to almost 1.5million cases and over 85,000 deaths to date.

There are no recommended treatments to date for Covid-19 and research is urgently needed to improve our understanding of the disease’s effects on the body and to develop new treatments.

As this is a new disease, it is science and research that is urgently needed to crush the devastating Covid-19 pandemic and make it a more manageable disease.


UCD School of Medicine

Staff from the UCD School of Medicine have been active at the frontline, providing care for patients with Covid-19, giving clinical leadership and leading programmes of research. Our University has some of the world’s leading physicians and scientists who are actively leading the fight against this devastating disease. The school has established a Covid-19 Clinical Research Group who are coordinating efforts to ensure we are leading the pushback against the pandemic.

This group builds on the strong foundations of the university in clinical research, in infectious diseases), in respiratory medicine and in critical care research. We have rapidly mobilised our expertise and have already created a major Covid-19 research programme.


Mobilising Our Resources

UCD has mobilised its key assets in the area of clinical research and refocused some of its major programmes to address the pandemic.

Led by Professor Peter Doran, the centre focuses on innovative, translational health care research at our university hospital partners St Vincent’s University Hospital and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. Clinical research helps discover ways to improve medical care and to establish new treatments

Led by Professor Paddy Mallon, CEPHR brings together researchers and research groups from across UCD who focus on infection-related research. CEPHR members comprise clinical, translational, statistical and biomedical researchers working interactively on aspects of host and pathogen research from the UCD School of Medicine, UCD School of Biology and Biological Sciences, and UCD School of Politics and International Relations. It works closely with the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) which is the largest testing centre for SARS CoV2 in the country.

Led by Professor Alistair Nichol, the Irish Critical Care-Clinical Trials Group (ICC-CTG) conducts key drug trials and related studies in the population, supported by  Irish Critical Care-Clinical Research Centre (ICC-CRC), which is funded by the HRB. The ICC-CRC is a group of highly motivated clinicians, nurses and scientists working collaboratively to improve outcomes in critically ill patients in Ireland. 

Our Projects

All Ireland Infectious Disease Cohort

PI: Professor Paddy Mallon

The All Ireland Infectious Disease cohort, led by Prof Paddy Mallon is enrolling patients at a number of Irish Hospitals with infectious disease, including Covid-19. This study will collect samples from patients alongside clinical data and will allow investigators to determine the molecular contributors to the host pathogen  interaction in patients who are ill with Covid-19. This national study involves collaborators from all over Ireland who are working together. Learn more.


PI: Professor Alistair Nichol

SPRINT-SARI is an international, multi-centre, prospective, short period incidence observational study of patients in participating hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI). It is vital to systematically collect data on patients with SARI to fully understand  both the epidemiological characteristics and patient course and outcomes. The collection of this data to understand Covid-19 is of vital importance as globally we work together to better understand this disease. Learn more.


PI: Professor Alistair Nichol

This study uses a design known as a REMAP,  (a Randomised, Embedded, Multifactorial, Adaptive Platform trial).  The broad objective of this REMAP is, over time, to determine and continuously update the optimal set of treatments for community-acquired pneumonia.

REMAP-CAP has implemented additional trial domains so that the platform can respond rapidly to Covid-19. These domains are

  • Antiviral therapy:
  • Immune Modulation therapy

The impact of these treatments on patients in intensive care is being determined

A number of Irish hospitals, including St Vincent's University Hospital, are now actively involved in REAMAP-CAP with Professor Nichol as the Irish Lead and UCD as the coordinating site. Learn more.

Initial findings from a global intravenous hydrocortisone trial have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported here on the website of UCD School of Medicine. 


Covid-19 and Asthma

PI: Dr Marcus Butler

Given the current public health advice for severe asthma cocooning and paucity of evidence, we wish to determine if SARS-Cov-2-induced-severe asthma exacerbations are associated with worse asthma control at 30 days after discharge compared to non-Covid-19 asthma exacerbations. We will assess this by sequentially measuring standard patient-reported outcomes including the ACQ7 questionnaire, as well as objective indices: lung function using handheld personal spirometers for domiciliary lung function testing and oxygen levels assessed by pulse oximeter, both of which are linked to the patients smartphone application (patientMpower) which will be provided to patients to use at home for 30 days.

Solidarity Trial

PI: Professor Cormac McCarthy, Assistant Professor Eavan Muldoon

SOLIDARITY is a clinical trial being led by the World Health Organisation. UCD is actively participating in this trial through Professor Cormac McCarthy at St Vincent’s University Hospital and Associate Professor Aoife Cotter (March-July 2020) and Assistant Professor Eavan Muldoon (July 2020 - present) at Mater Misericordia University Hospital. The national Lead Investigator for this trial is Professor Joe Eustace from UCC, and the trial is coordinated by HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland

The trial intends to rapidly assess in thousands of Covid-19 infected people the potential efficacy of existing antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents including

  • Remdesivir
  • Lopinavir/ritonavir
  • Lopinavir/ritonavir combined with interferon beta
  • Hydroxychloroquine

The Solidarity project is designed to give answers to major questions including whether these drugs will reduce mortality, reduce severity of illness. For more information and results from the Solidarity trial visit the WHO dedicated web page.

Covid-19 in Pregnancy

PI: Professor Donal Brennan

The primary purpose of this multidisciplinary study is to develop a national registry of Covid-19 positive patients during pregnancy and characterize the strength and type of immune response to Covid-19 infection in order to provide insight into the durability of the antibody response, and the provision of transient immunity to the neonate. We will also assess the impact of the pandemic on women’s experiences of birth, and on mental health for women and clinicians and if this varies by place of birth or model of care. 

Research Ethics in Covid-19 Pandemic

PI: Professor Rachel Crowley

This project involves two specific areas of investigation

  • Profiling research ethics committee response to Covid-19 pandemic – adaptation of work practices and
  • Review of ethics reviews in published Covid research