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SCOTLAND is leading the way in sepsis research, Scotland’s National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch has said.

Professor Leitch was speaking as he urged people who have had sepsis not to hesitate in getting a vaccination against Covid-19.

He said: “If you have had sepsis then you should make sure you are vaccinated. It is not a reason not to have the vaccine. The NHS is open – it is available for other conditions, not just Covid.”

Sepsis Research FEAT (Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust) is the only UK charity dedicated to raising funds for research into the illness and Professor Leitch praised the work it is helping fund at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute.

In a video message for the charity, Professor Leitch said: “Scotland is leading the way in sepsis research and there is some fantastic work being done at the Roslin Institute in particular.”

See the full video of Jason Leitch’s statement below.

Research into better ways to treat sepsis is expected to accelerate this year as a spin-off from the massive efforts that have gone into finding a vaccine for Covid-19.

The study, part-funded by Sepsis Research (FEAT), at the Roslin Institute was already gathering DNA samples from sepsis patients in intensive care units throughout the UK when the coronavirus pandemic struck. Because there are similarities between sepsis and Covid-19, the work being carried out at Roslin into the genetics of susceptibility and mortality in critical care (GenOMMIC) was re-purposed to help in the fight against the pandemic.

Working with Oxford University and GenOMMIC England facilitated a rise in the number of gene samples available to the Roslin scientists and these will now play an important part in the fight against sepsis.

Dr Kenneth Baillie, who heads the genetic study at Roslin, said: “Early in 2020 our research lab was able to respond rapidly to the Covid-19 pandemic because the foundations of the GenOMICC study were already in place.

“This is largely thanks to the research funded by the charity, Sepsis Research (FEAT), who for almost two years were working closely with the lab to support genetic research for sepsis patients. Without this funding we would have been at the same starting place as literally every other country in the world.”

Colin Graham, the charity’s chief operating officer, said: “We would like to thank Professor Leitch for making the time in his hectic schedule to highlight the need for people who have had sepsis to get vaccinated and recognise the invaluable work we are helping fund at the Roslin Institute.”

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