St George’s, University of London, the UK’s specialist health university, is moving all research to tackling the coronavirus.

With all other research paused, the "while University is mobilising" to help the national fighting the virus which has caused much of the world to go into lockdown.

Researchers will continue to work, running clinical trials and diagnostic tests for the disease, as well as looking to understand the underlying biology of the virus and the body’s immune response.

The first trial led by the University to receive ethical approval is the collection of clinical samples from COVID-19-infected patients.

These samples will initially be used to evaluate a rapid antibody test designed to tell people if they have coronavirus or not.

This project will be led by Professor Sanjeev Krishna and Dr Tim Planche from the Institute of Infection & Immunity at St George’s, University of London.

Dr Tim Planche said: “Without testing and samples, you’re fighting coronavirus blind.

"This study will enable the work of a taskforce at St George’s to tackle the disease, by giving all parts of the University quick access to samples in a national time of need.

“We’ve got one shot at this, and by opening up our samples to be looked at by many people to evaluate the immune response, virus clearance and more, we can have the greatest impact.”

Many of the trials will benefit from a joint approach between St George’s, University of London and St George’s University Hospital.

The trials of new treatments, which are being run by St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have already started and patients are being recruited by University and Trust staff.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital will be collaborating with researchers at the University to provide samples and data to enable a direct link from patients to research and research to patients.

In particular, the Clinical Research Facility managed by St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is now almost completely focused on COVID-19 research.

Deputy Principal for Research at St George’s, University of London, Professor Jon Friedland, said: “The whole University is mobilising clinical, diagnostic and underlying scientific research so that we can help the effort against COVID-19.

"We want to send out the message that St George’s is very much open to research on COVID-19, and we are welcoming collaborations with partners across industry and academia."