Tens of thousands of households in England are invited to participate in a new study to monitor the spread of COVID-19.
The research aims to understand the current rate of infection and the number of people who have developed antibodies to it. coronavirus.
The first part of the study will cover around 20,000 households in England, chosen to be representative of the British population in terms of age and geography.
People will provide nose and throat pads and answer questions during a home visit by a healthcare practitioner.
Tests will show if the person has the virus and will be asked to do further tests every week for five weeks and then every month for a year.
About 300,000 people are expected to be involved in the study over the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, adults from around 1,000 households will also donate a blood sample to help determine how many people have developed antibodies to COVID-19. They will be asked to give samples every month for a year.
The test is currently being validated by scientists at the University of Oxford.
No blood sample will be taken from households where a person has symptoms of COVID-19 or is self-insulating or protected. Swabs will be collected from all participating households, regardless of symptoms.
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Volunteers are selected from people who have previously participated in ONS surveys and who say they are happy to be contacted for further research.
The first results of the study, which is led by the Department of Health and the Office of National Statistics, will be released in early May.
The pilot phase will take place in England but the study will eventually cover the whole of the United Kingdom.
The study will involve the University of Oxford, the data science company IQVIA UK and the National Biosample Center in Milton Keynes.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “A better understanding of the COVID-19 infection rate in the general population and the longer-term prevalence of antibodies is an essential part of our continued response to this virus.
“This investigation will allow us to follow the current spread of transmission and infection in the UK, while answering crucial questions about immunity as we continue to deepen our understanding of this new virus.
“Together, these results will help us better understand the spread of the virus to date, predict the future trajectory and inform future actions that we will take, including the development of revolutionary new tests and treatments.” “