South Africa
Overview of research project
This programme of projects is focused on understanding and providing information on the clinical presentation and pathogenesis of COVID-19 in the South African population.

Researchers in the HIATUS programme of four related projects will invite hospitalised COVID-19 patients to donate small extra samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid during normal care procedures.

In the first HIATUS project, the team will investigate the SARS-CoV-2-specific response of T-cells and determine whether these responses correlate with disease outcomes. Results from this study could also provide the basis for a simplified test to assess viral immunity.

In the second project, researchers will examine the role of specific pathological phenomena, such as clotting and cytokine storms in COVID-19. Cytokine storms are severe and potentially life-threatening hyperinflammatory immune reactions in which the body releases a flood of cellular signalling molecules.

Although COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, it is increasingly evident that there are also neurological effects, such as anosmia (loss of smell), which suggests that the virus may infect the nerves and brain. The research team will therefore describe and characterise the prevalence, clinical presentation, biochemistry and severity of neurological COVID-19 in their third project.

In their last project, researchers will extend an existing TB close-contact study by including COVID-19 screening and testing in future clinic visits.
Name of researcher/developer
Robert J Wilkinson
Primary organisation
University of Cape Town, Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College London
Opportunity type
Repurposing of existing grants
Stage of development
Research in progress
Collaboration partner
Imperial College, Francis Crick Institute, University College London, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Livingstone Hospital
Research Category