The COVID-19 Infection Survey started in April 2020 and is the largest UK-based representative longitudinal study of its kind monitoring COVID-19. 400,000 participants are tested for COVID-19 swab positivity once a month and up to 150,000 participants are tested for antibodies. The survey was set up to respond to the needs of the government, the public, and academics around the critical research questions into COVID-19.

The objective of this funding call is to amplify the impact of the COVID-19 Infection Survey by supporting research projects and analyses that create new knowledge and insights to inform the national COVID-19 response, policy, and future pandemic preparedness.

Some priority research projects have been outlined relating to observations and data gaps made by the ONS.

Diffusion of infection across age-groups

In CIS data we observe a "double bump" or bimodal distribution in modelled positivity by age, with clear but distinct peaks in children and young people and in adults. What can the distribution of infections across different ages tell us about transmission? Children and young people have parents of varying ages, so this pattern is likely not fully explained by transmission from children to parents. How might this distribution of infection by age generalise or teach us about influenza and other respiratory diseases? 

Relating patterns of social interaction to positivity

In addition to positivity, the CIS collections data on social contact (either socially distanced or physical contact with other people outside their own household). Using data-driven approaches, could CIS data be used to define groups of people based on the nature and frequency of their social interactions? How have patterns of positivity observed in these groups changed over time in the context of vaccination and the introduction or easing of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions? Can the ratio of incidence to self-isolation throughout the pandemic be used to explain or predict subsequent positivity?

Positivity and occupation or workplace

CIS data have been used to assess rates of positivity in people working in different sectors and in patient versus non-patient facing roles. There is considerable scope to use CIS data to further explore the relationship between occupation and positivity or "ever" and "never" estimates, including the potential for further occupational analysis by region, age, ethnicity, and Variants of Concern.  

Positivity early in the pandemic

Could CIS data be used to robustly estimate who contracted COVID-19 in the first wave of the pandemic? How could the resulting improvements in our "ever" and "never" infection estimates be used to further assess waning immunity and reinfection? 

Projects not related to these areas are also welcome.

COVID-19 Infection Survey data is also a linked data asset and access may be possible should projects put this forward. See the SRS data catalogue for more information.

Projects must be completed by March 2022 and so projects will be assessed on the feasibility of meeting this timeline, the quality of the added value to the field of knowledge, and value for money. Please ensure you read the terms and conditions, eligibility criteria and Secure Research Service Guidance in the More information document (PDF, 715.8KB) attached before applying. The application form (PDF, 1.1MB) and other accompanying material are attached.

The deadline for applications is 5.00pm on 11 November 2021.