The Department of Health is funding urgent research projects worth £2.3m to inform the response to swine flu.

Fourteen projects will be launched this week with results expected by the end of the year, it was announced today.

Projects include a Nottingham University and Health Protection Agency study into how long a sufferer is contagious for and what the “safe distance” from the patient is to avoid infection is.

Another, led by Sheffield University professor Steve Goodacre, is evaluating measures that could be used in emergency departments to decide which suspected swine flu patients should be admitted.

Dame Sally Davies, Department of Health director general of research and development, said: “We are rapidly learning about the emerging swine flu risk profile – solid clinical and scientific evidence must be at the heart of this.

“The research projects announced today will ensure the UK remains well armed to respond to swine flu, help prevent infection, and save lives,” she said.