COVID-19 Inquiry: Lords committee to tackle immunology and pathophysiology

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will next week continue its inquiry into the science of COVID-19.

The committee will hear from further leading academics and medical professionals on the immune response to the virus, before continuing with a more detailed look at the effects of the disease within the human body.

Both evidence sessions will be conducted on zoom and can be followed at from 3pm (GMT) on Monday 15 June.

3pm: Immunology

Giving evidence will be:

  • Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford
  • Professor Adrian Hayday, Chair in the Department of Immunobiology, Kings College London; and Group Leader, Immunosurveillance Laboratory, Francis Crick Institute
  • Professor Massimo Palmarini, Chair of Virology and Director of MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow

Questions will include:

  • What are the key elements of the human immune response to a novel pathogen such as SARS-CoV-2? 
  • How much variation is there between individuals' immune responses to the virus?
  • In what ways does the immune response vary by age, and why?
  • What is a cytokine storm, and why does it occur?
  • What constitutes "effective immunity" against reinfection by SARS-CoV-2?
  • To what extent do we understand the relative role of antibodies and T-cells in conferring SARS-CoV-2 immunity? 
  • Is there any evidence that exposure to other coronaviruses confers any immunity to this novel virus? 
  • To what extent are COVID-19 treatment strategies focusing on modulating the immune response to the virus?

4pm: Pathophysiology

Giving evidence will be:

  • Professor Mauro Giacca, Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences, King's College London
  • Professor Beverley Hunt OBE, Consultant in Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, NIHR Clinician Scientist, Reader and Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, King's College London
  • Dr Elizabeth Whittaker, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, St Mary's Hospital; and Lecturer in Paediatric Infection and Immunity, Imperial College

Questions will include:

  • Please give us a brief overview of how the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19 disease in humans?
  • What is the natural progression of the disease and how quickly does the disease progress in the body?
  • What factors appear to account for variation in disease susceptibility and disease severity between individuals?
  • Why do some categories of people appear more susceptible to severe forms of the disease?
  • What is our understanding of why some people experience less severe disease?
  • To what extent do we understand the possible role of genetics in determining the susceptibility to infection, and to severity of disease?
  • To what extent do we understand the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 infection?

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