1. How to take part in the study

To take part, you will need to register with IQVIA; this is the company collecting data on behalf of the ONS and the University of Oxford.

To register, call IQVIA on the number included in your letter. You will also need to provide your reference number; you will find this in the top right-hand corner of your letter. Your reference number starts with three letters, for example “COV”. The telephone adviser will then be able to book you in for an appointment for a nurse or study health worker to visit your home to complete the study.

Taking part will not affect the medical care you receive, and there is no effect on any regular medication or other prescribed or over-the-counter medicines you might be taking.

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2. Why you should take part in the study

This study will allow scientists to understand who has been infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19), even if they have not realised it at the time. This will help the government work out how to manage the pandemic better moving forwards and protect the NHS from being overwhelmed.

Your participation is entirely voluntary, and you may withdraw at any time without providing a reason. Everyone in the household can make a different choice – it is not necessary for everyone to do the same. If you do take part, you may withdraw from the study at any time without giving a reason and without penalty. Parents or carers may also withdraw their child from the study at any time without giving a reason.

This is your chance to be involved in a unique study that will help scientists work out how many people have already been infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are still not convinced, you do not have to take part if you do not want to.

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3. How you have been selected for the study

You may have been contacted because you:

  • are currently taking part in the Labour Force Survey; it is also really important to us that you continue to take part in that study
  • have recently taken part in one of our online studies
  • have been randomly selected from a database of addresses
  • have taken part in a survey conducted by NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistical Research Agency)

The letter you have received will have been addressed to a household member who took part in a previous ONS study or to the householder. However, in this study we are asking for all adults, teenagers and children aged two years or older in your household to take part.

In the first phase of this study, we asked around 11,000 households from England to take part. Over the next year, we are asking around 220,000 households to take part from across the UK.

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4. Who can take part in the study

Anyone in the household aged two years or older can take part in this study. The only exception is adults who are not able to consent for themselves.

It is also fine to take part if you are involved in other research studies.

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5. What happens if you decide to take part

If you or anyone currently resident in your household would like to take part in the study, then we will arrange for a study health worker to visit your home. By current resident, we mean a person who typically stays overnight in the household address at least four nights out of seven. A "household" is defined as either:

  • one person living alone; or
  • a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room or sitting room or dining area

Please call IQVIA, the company collecting the data, to book an appointment convenient for you. The reason for sending someone from the study to your home is so that you do not have to travel to a health centre. Everyone working for the study has received appropriate training.

Anyone in your home who wants to, can take part in the study. However, no one has to – we will include as many people as want to join.

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6. Payment for taking part

As a thank you for taking part, everyone, including children, taking part in the study will receive a voucher.

You will be issued a voucher every time you participate in the study.

The amount received for each completed visit is the same for everyone taking part. The amount does not vary if you are invited to give swab samples only or both swab and blood samples.

Everyone who completes the enrolment visit will be offered one £50 voucher, and one £25 voucher for each further visit.

Please note we will never ask for your bank details, the vouchers will only ever be issued by email or in some cases by post.

Receiving your voucher

An email will be sent within 20 working days of each completed appointment with instructions on how to redeem your voucher.

The incentives you receive for taking part do not necessarily follow each visit. So, you may receive incentives that contain differing amounts. These amounts will reflect the number of times you have participated. This may also vary for each member of your household – you may not all receive incentives at the same time.

Please always check your junk or spam folder by searching for emails from the sender "latest-updates@sodexo-engage.com".

If you have not received your voucher within 20 working days, please email customersupport@sodexoengage.com.

Spending your voucher

The voucher codes will be valid for three months from the date you receive the email. Once redeemed, the voucher for the specific retailer of your choice will be valid for much longer.

Both online and in-store vouchers are currently available for the following retailers, please note these are subject to change at short notice:

Online

  • Amazon
  • Asos
  • Boohoo
  • Buyagift
  • Eurostar
  • Evans Cycles
  • Global Hotel Card GB
  • Google Play
  • Hotels.com
  • Inspire Travel Card
  • ITunes
  • Lastminute.com
  • Not on The High Street
  • Red Letter Days
  • Ticketmaster
  • Uber
  • Uber Eats
  • Virgin
  • Virgin Experience
  • Zalando

In-store

  • Caffé Nero
  • Clarks
  • Costa Coffee
  • Footlocker
  • Halfords
  • Nando's
  • Pizza Hut
  • Primark
  • T.K.Maxx
  • Tesco
  • The Dining Out Card (Mitchell and Butler)
  • The Great British Pub Card

Both online and in-store

  • Adidas
  • Arcadia
  • Argos
  • Arsenal
  • B&Q
  • Blackwells
  • Decathlon
  • Ernest Jones
  • H. Samuel
  • John Lewis
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Mococo Jewellery
  • National Book Tokens
  • National Trust
  • New Look
  • Nike
  • Ted Baker
  • The Body Shop
  • The Entertainer
  • The White Company

Redeeming or using your voucher

The email containing voucher codes will have instructions on how to redeem the voucher against your chosen retailer(s). For more information please visit the voucher supplier's help page.

Currently, to redeem a voucher for your chosen retailer you can use a different email address to the one your voucher code is sent to. We are now asking that where possible you redeem your voucher using the same email address the code was sent to. Using the same email address means we can be sure it is you who receives the voucher.

If you want to gift the voucher to someone else, you can still do this. Redeem the voucher using your email address that the code was sent to, then gift the voucher.

If you would like help redeeming or using the voucher you can also email the voucher supplier directly on customersupport@sodexoengage.com.

Donating your voucher to charity or the NHS

Unfortunately For Good Causes Charity have advised that they can no longer offer the option to purchase eVouchers to donate to charities, which means the eVoucher will no longer be available to purchase. This means there is no current option available to donate to charity. We are sorry for this and are working with our suppliers to identify a replacement option.

Requesting a physical alternative

You can choose to receive a physical gift card instead of an online voucher. However, receipt of a physical gift card may be affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and we therefore cannot guarantee delivery within 20 working days of your completed appointment.

If you still wish to receive a physical gift card, please get in touch by emailing incentives.mailbox@ons.gov.uk.

Information on where you can spend a physical gift card is available.

If you still have questions

Please make sure you have completed the following before getting in contact with us directly:

If you have read both of these and your question was not answered, email us at incentives.mailbox@ons.gov.uk.

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7. Taking part in the study if you have been vaccinated

Everyone in the study can receive a COVID-19 vaccination when they are eligible to do so - if your healthcare provider asks questions about the study, you can show them this letter (64.7 kB pdf) confirming this.

People who have received a COVID-19 vaccination can stay in the study - and it is extremely important that they do so, as long as they are willing. The study will help us monitor how well the vaccine works in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

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8. Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in your household at the time of the study

If anyone in your household is currently experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19), self-isolating or shielding, we would still like to make this visit. This is because it is really important to find out how many people with symptoms or who are self-isolating or shielding are infected or exposed to the virus.

If this is the case, we will not take blood from anyone. The nurse or study health worker will not enter the household, and they will pass you the self-swabbing kits while staying at least two metres away from everyone in the household. They will ask the few short questions from this distance.

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9. Postponing the study because of coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

You can still take part in the future. Please still call IQVIA to let them know, and a nurse or study health worker can arrange to visit you when you are better.

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10. Withdrawing from the study

Your participation is entirely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without explanation. This includes after you have arranged an appointment for a nurse or study health worker to visit your home and if you have already given a swab from your nose and throat and a blood sample.

If the tests have already been done when you change your mind, we will still use the data from them because they are very important for our study to get a good picture of who has had the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the UK. But if you no longer wish for any leftover blood to be stored, we will destroy it. You can also decide that you do not want us to get any more information about you from the NHS if you leave the study.

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