Study Detail

COVID-19 Infection Survey

Incidence of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and prevalence of immunity to COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in the UK general population as assessed through repeated cross-sectional household surveys with additional serial sampling and longitudinal follow-up

Status: Open

Type: Observational

Funder: Office for National Statistics

Sponsor: University of Oxford

CI: Professor Sarah Walker

IRAS-Number: 283248

CPMS-ID: 46962

Approval Date: 20 August 2020


The aim of this study is to estimate incidence and prevalence of symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in the general population and how this varies over time.


The Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound impact across the UK. This study aims to find out how many people have the infection, and how many are likely to have had the infection, even if they haven't realised it at the time. The main test used to diagnose Covid-19 directly looks for the virus in their nose and throat. Once someone has recovered, the virus is no longer there. One way the body fights infections is by producing small particles in the blood called "antibodies". It takes 2-3 weeks to make enough antibodies to fight the infection. But once someone recovers, antibodies stay in the blood at low levels- this is what helps them not get the same infection again. So scientists try to measure levels of the virus and these antibodies to work out who has Covid-19 now (with or without symptoms) and in the past. In this study we will test for the virus in the nose and throat of people and measure levels of antibody in the blood. We will begin by asking everyone aged 2 years or older in ~11,000 households to have a nose and throat swab and answer some questions at a home visit. Those from ~1000 households will also have a blood sample taken by a healthcare professional. We will include a new group of ~11,000 households approximately every month, to find out how rates of infection and immunity are changing. We will also ask all these people whether they would be happy to have the same tests repeated each week for a month, and every month for a year, to find out how infection and immunity changes over time in individuals. This information will help work out how to manage the pandemic better moving forwards and protect the NHS.

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