A government-backed study to test care home staff and residents for their immune response to coronavirus is to triple in size.
The number of care homes taking part in the Vivaldi 2 study will increase from 100 to 340, testing approximately 4,500 residents and 9,500 staff.
The study led by researchers from University College London (UCL) will use trained phlebotomists to draw blood from care home residents and staff which is then used to test for the presence of antibodies for COVID-19.
This data will then be cross-referenced with swab testing in care homes to analyse prevalence of the virus over time.
The study is predicted to last to April 2022.
‘Expanding this brilliant study, with the support of UCL, is another step towards improving our understanding of the virus,’ said care minister, Helen Whately.
‘Testing people’s antibody reaction to COVID-19 is crucial in helping us to control the spread of the virus, particularly amongst people who are vulnerable.
‘The more we know about this virus and are able to control it, the safer it will be for people in care homes.’
The results of the first Vivaldi study were published in July and revealed that more than half of care homes in England reported at least one case of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
‘Expanding the Vivaldi study will tell us how many people living and working in care homes have been infected with COVID-19, and whether being infected once protects against future infections,’ said Dr Laura Shallcross of UCL Institute of Health Informatics.
‘This study will help us protect the most vulnerable members of society from this devastating infection.’
Earlier this week, the care minister defended the government’s track record on care homes in parliament.
‘As we set out in our winter plan for adult social care, we have a regime of regular testing for staff and residents, we are supplying personal protective equipment to care homes, we have been offering training in infection prevention and control, backed up by Care Quality Commission inspections, and we are providing £1.1 bn to social care specifically to go towards the cost of infection prevention and control,’ Ms Whately told MPs on 17 November.