by Chris Cartwright

Over the four months since our last Early Life and Prevention theme update, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to shape the focus of our research and efforts.  Most notably this has been through the Bradford District COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group (C-SAG), where we have repurposed our research expertise and infrastructure and worked alongside colleagues from the Local Authority, NHS and Voluntary and Community Sector to inform the local response to the pandemic.

Highlights have included:

We’ve adopted responsive ways of working, recognising that robust findings are needed quickly by our partners to shape services and responses to the pandemic.  For example, we undertook preliminary analysis of the first 1000 responses to our Born in Bradford parent’s survey, providing a written report and hosting webinars, to inform local responses which included the development of rapid mental health needs assessment.  Significantly, by comparing with pre-pandemic data, we’ve been able to understand some of the impact the pandemic has been having and how these impacts are not being felt equally across our society. 

As we look forward, the impacts of the pandemic, on all aspects of life, and by extension health, have been profound.  Our research needs to account for this changed context but is no less important or relevant because of it.  Indeed, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of tackling drivers and conditions leading to non-communicable disease which have been shown to be a risk factor in COVID-19.  Our Born in Bradford research shows how this risk begins in pregnancy and early life and that the causes lie in the wider determinants of health (housing, food systems, urban design, education, air quality, culture) far more than just individual behavioural choices.

We’re actively working with partners across the region to share relevant research findings, informing and shaping policy and strategic responses.  Over the coming months we will also be engaging with the public and partners to shape our future research priorities to keep our research relevant.