1. About the study

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a major impact across the UK.

This study is trying to work out how many people have already had COVID-19, even if they do not realise they have had it. We do this by asking questions, taking a swab from your nose and throat, and possibly taking a blood sample. One way the body fights infections like COVID-19 is by making small particles in the blood called “antibodies”. Scientists will measure levels of the COVID-19 virus in a nose and throat swab and levels of these antibodies in blood to work out who has COVID-19 now (with or without symptoms) and who has had it in the past. We will measure levels of the virus in a nose and throat swab once in everyone who joins the study. Only some of these people will be asked to give blood as well.

This study is running over the course of a year. There are three options open to you. You can just have one visit. You can have a visit every week for a month. Or, you can have a visit every week for a month and then continue to have visits every month for one year in total from when you joined the study. This is entirely voluntary. The nurse or study health worker can explain more about what this will involve.

The overall purpose of this study is to understand how many people of different ages across the UK have already had COVID-19. This will help the government work out how to manage the pandemic better moving forwards and protect the NHS from being overwhelmed.

Back to table of contents

2. Organisations carrying out the study

The ONS is carrying out this study. The University of Oxford is sponsoring the study. We are working with other organisations to help collect and process the data for this study.

  • IQVIA will be responsible for arranging appointments, carrying out the nose and throat swabs, and taking the blood samples.

  • Scientists at the University of Oxford will be responsible for storing and processing the blood samples. They will create the antibody data for the ONS to analyse.

  • The Glasgow Lighthouse Laboratory is responsible for storing and processing the nose and throat swabs. They will create the virus data for the ONS to analyse.

  • The ONS and University of Oxford will analyse the data that have been processed by the University of Oxford and The National Biosample Centre.

Back to table of contents

3. Definition of antibody

Antibodies are one way that your body fights an infection. It takes between two to three weeks for your body to make enough of them to fight the infection. When you get better, they still stay in your blood at low levels – this is what helps you not get the same infection again.

Back to table of contents

4. Ethical review

This project has been given approval by South Central – Berkshire B Research Ethics Committee (20/SC/0195).

Back to table of contents