Study to investigate Covid-19 infection in population

The study aims to inform on extent of asymptomatic Covid-19 infection and level of infection

More than 5,000 people in Dublin and Sligo are being invited to participate in a “Study to Investigate Covid-19 Infection in People Living in Ireland”, and have been selected randomly from the Health Service Executive (HSE) Primary Care Reimbursement Service database.

Initial results are expected in two months’ time in late August. The investigations are intended to enable the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) estimate the level, or prevalence, of infection of Covid-19 in the population, across different age groups.

In addition to responding to a series of questions participants are being asked to provide a blood sample to test for antibodies. Those who are found to have antibodies for Covid-19 are to be asked to take part in a follow-up study.

“The antibody test we are using has recently been shown in international studies to be both sensitive, in that it detects the majority of people with antibodies, and specific in that a positive test is an accurate reflection of infection,” said Dr Cillian De Gascun, Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL).

“When the results are available, we will have valuable information on the level of infection by age group and also the extent of asymptomatic infection, informing our national public health responses to Covid-19,” added Dr Lorraine Doherty, HSE National Clinical Director for Health Protection.

The study design is based on the “Population-based age-stratified seroepidemiologic investigation protocol for coronavirus 2019 [Covid-19] infection” developed by the World Health Organization.

The HSE study received approval from the National Covid-19 Research Ethics Committee and is being coordinated by the HPSC, and the NVRL, in collaboration with the Central Statistics Office and the Department of Health.

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