Around 10,000 residents and staff across over 100 care homes will be given repeat coronavirus tests, as part of a new government study.
The study will use swab and blood tests for all consenting staff and residents over the next year in order to help track who has the virus, past exposure and infection over time.
According to the government, it will provide reassurance for those living and working in care homes and allow them to react quickly to outbreaks.
The first blood samples took place on 11 June.
This information will help inform future government strategy on the ongoing response to the virus, including lockdown and social distancing measures.
The first results from initial participants are expected to be available in July.
The research, carried out in collaboration with DHSC, UCL and NHS Data Foundry, will draw on results from whole care home testing and previous studies to build a more comprehensive picture of how outbreaks play out over time within the same home.
‘This study will provide unique insights into the proportion of care home staff and residents who have already been infected with COVID-19, and the proportion with an antibody response,’ said Dr Laura Shallcross of UCL Institute of Health Informatics.
‘We will also collect detailed information from care homes to try and understand why some care homes have had outbreaks and others have not.
‘Taken together, this information will be used to inform the pandemic response in care homes, and protect residents and staff from becoming infected with COVID-19 in the future,’ added Dr Shallcross.
The chief executive of Care England, Martin Green added: ‘This study is absolutely critical if we are to win the battle against COVID-19.
‘There is still so much to learn about this virus; why some care homes have tested positive whilst displaying no symptoms or deaths and others have felt the full force of the brutality of this silent killer.’
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