"IT's the biggest and most urgent research race in living memory - and we are running for our lives."

Those are the rallying words of Professor John Wright, a medical doctor and epidemiologist who is also head of the Bradford Institute for Health Research based at the Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), as the hospital takes part in a major study to find an effective treatment for coronavirus.

A vaccine is at least a year away, so the stakes are high to make sure more lives are not needlessly lost. Bradford patients will play a crucial role in that.

In a diary for the BBC, Prof Wright said: "If we're going to save precious lives, we desperately need effective treatments today. To do that, we need to harness the best medical research in the UK.

"Now is the time to combine all our bright research lights and shine them on to Covid-19."

The Recovery trial, which stands for Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy, is recruiting anyone over the age of 18 who is admitted into hospital with coronavirus

As of Thursday, 2,000 patients had been recruited - 30 of whom were in Bradford.

"This is one of the advantages of having a National Health Service. We've never been so co-ordinated, having one big trial, and trying to recruit everybody in the country," he said.

"It's the biggest and most urgent research race in living memory, and we are running for our lives."

But fears around staffing levels, personal protective equipment (PPE) and dealing with the emotional toil the virus takes are all challenges Bradford's hospitals face.

Mel Pickup, chief executive of the Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust, has given an insight into how it is coping with the ongoing crisis.

She said they had watched the situation unfold - and around five weeks ago it started to feel “very real”.

“Watching those hospitals go up in China was a bit of a salutary warning for us all about what was about to unfold.”

And the face of the unknown, she said there was a “very good reason to meticulously plan and prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.

She revealed around 10 per cent of Trust staff are currently off sick with coronavirus symptoms, or are self isolating.

But now staff who are at home because they have symptoms of coronavirus - which could turn out to be Covid-19 or just a cold - are being asked in to be tested or directed to a new drive-through testing facility in Keighley.

“As the testing turnaround times become better, I think that will be a good thing,” said Ms Pickup.

As on a national level, the issue of the delivery and availability of PPE, is one which is a concern.

While the hospital has managed “by hook or by crook” and “almost living hand to mouth”, Ms Pickup said: “At the moment, we are not in a position to know exactly when the supplies will arrive and what the supplies will be because we are not directly ordering them.

“They are being distributed centrally.”

She added: “This is a very, very dangerous environment to work without that protective equipment.

“The evidence is showing us and stories that are emerging from other countries that have been through this peak and hopefully coming out the other side, healthcare workers are very exposed and vulnerable and we have to do our best to make sure they don’t pay the ultimate price while seeking to care for people.”

Schools in Bradford are stepping up to the challenge to help frontline workers and have been praised for their efforts.

Hanson School, along with Grove House Primary, is using its design and technology facilities to make PPE. They expect to have made 1,200 by the end of the week - andsay they will continue to create them as long as they have the materials.

As the numbers of cases continue to rise at the hospital, Ms Pickup said intensive care capacity is being quadrupled.

Sadly, some patients will not make it, and it’s a situation made all the more difficult because of visiting restrictions.

Ms Pickup said one of the hardest things staff are having to face at the moment is the pain of seeing people die without their loved ones close by.

“It’s absolutely heart-wrenching.

“We are having to look after patients, some of whom will not survive, without having their relatives by their side.”

But, staff are coming forward and volunteering to sit with those patients who are reaching the end of their life because their family cannot.

“We have made that commitment,” she said. “No-one in this hospital will die alone.”

Measures are also being put in place to ensure families can keep in touch with loved ones. She praised hospital staff for their efforts throughout the crisis - whether they’ve trained in a new area or have been redeployed to a role they wouldn’t usually be in.

“I’ve been absolutely blown away by the response of staff to this challenge,” she said and also praised the response from the community who've rallied to boost those on the frontline.

"It's so heartwarming and so appreciated," said Ms Pickup.

"It's a great position to be in, we are very lucky in that regard."

As well as the efforts to fight coronavirus, people are being urged to still seek emergency medical treatment if needed.

“We are very much open for business," she said.