About Our Study

A new project by researchers at the University of Oxford seeks to estimate how common coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is in the United Kingdom, and explore using a new diagnostic tool called nanopore sequencing.

We are seeking volunteers aged 18 years or older who have never been diagnosed with COVID-19 to volunteer. 

If you are interested in participating, please visit our application formYou are invited to read the information and apply. Selected participants will be courier mailed a testing kit with instructions, throat swabs and a finger-prick test for self-collection at home. We will also ask you to complete a short questionnaire on the day of collection. A courier will pick up the test kit the following day.

Note that test results are not shared with individual volunteers. 

Our tests are research-grade and not an alternative to advice on when to seek medical attention. Participating in our study does not replace current public health advice on social distancing, testing and when to contact a health care provider. For the latest advice please visit NHS 111 online.

How to participate in the study

1. APPLY

Read the study information, including the Participant Information Sheet and FAQs, and apply to participate.

2. HEAR FROM US

If you are selected, we will let you know about the next steps by email.

3. TESTING

We will post you a kit with instructions for self-collection and arrange return courier so you do not need to leave your home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

For detailed information, please see the Participant Information Sheet.

Where can I find more information on COVID-19?

You can find detailed information about COVID-19, including the potential symptoms, and what you should do if you believe you may have the virus, at NHS 111 online.

Who can take part? 

To take part you must be 18 years old or older, a UK resident, not currently admitted to a health facility and have not received a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 in the past.

We are currently recruiting participants in Oxford (postcode regions OX1, OX2, OX3, and OX4), the City of Westminster, and Reading (postcode regions RG1, RG2, RG30, RG31, RG4, RG5 and RG6).

The study may expand to other geographical regions of the UK after these initial phases and interested participants can apply now.

Will I be paid for taking part in this study?

We are unable to offer compensation for taking part in this study.

There will be no cost for you to take part in this study. The courier delivery and pick-up of test kits will be arranged by the research team to and from your home.

What type of tests are you doing?

In this study, we are comparing serology immunoassay, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and nanopore sequencing diagnostic approaches. Serology requires a finger prick at-home blood test (which is then discarded), while the other two require throat swabs processed in the lab.

Serology tests detect antibodies and may indicate whether someone is currently infected or has previously been infected.

PCR tests can detect short sections of genetic material that are unique to a virus. This is currently a widely used diagnostic method.

Nanopore technology sequences the entire genome of the virus through a small protein called a ‘nanopore.’ We are exploring whether this method, which doesn’t require knowledge about the pathogen beforehand, could be a diagnostic tool for new pathogens like COVID-19 that emerge.

What will I be asked to do?

We will be randomly selecting participants from those who apply to receive a kit. You will be contacted to let you know you have been selected, and provided a date of courier drop off and collection to your home.

You will be asked to read over all the instructions, read and sign the consent form, and complete a finger-prick test and self-collect two throat swabs. You will also be asked to complete an online questionnaire (preferred) or fill in the identical paper copy provided to you. You will be able to report the serology readout on your questionnaire after which the test strip can be safely discarded at home. The two throat swabs need to be returned for laboratory processing in the approved packaging provided. Couriers will pick up from your home on the date provided.

Note you can withdraw consent at anytime prior to the samples being collected, de-identified and processed and results data pooled, without giving a reason, by advising the researchers of this decision.

Can you give me my results?

No. This research study cannot share individual test results with volunteers. Our tests are research-grade and will not be available within a clinically relevant timeframe. Participating in our study does not replace current public health advice regarding social distancing, testing and when to contact a health care provider, information on which can be found at NHS 111 online.

How will my data be used? 

Personal data (name and contact details) will only be used to courier our test kits. This data will be destroyed within one week of all test kits being sent out to participants. Other research data (including consent forms) will be stored for at least 3 years after publication or public release of the work of the research. Consent forms will not contain your unique participant identifier number and will not be linked to the research data. The research team will have access to the research data. Responsible members of the University of Oxford may be given access to data for monitoring and/or audit of the research.

A de-identified summary report of the results will be shared with the National Health Service (NHS), the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and Public Health England (PHE) to help inform future public health responses to COVID-19 and other epidemics.

Can you help me to access treatment?

Unfortunately, we cannot assist in providing treatment. The best source of advice is NHS 111 online.

Can someone other than myself use my testing kit? 

Only the person listed in the application form who consents to participate can take the tests. If you have other adult members of your household who would like to participate, they can apply through the same online form.

Can my children take part in the study? 

No, only participants aged 18 years old or over can participate.

This study has received ethics approval from the University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division with ethics approval reference R69035/RE005.

Apply

You can click link to be directed to a volunteer application form.

Our Team

Dr Cassidy Nelson

Research Scholar and DPhil Candidate

Cassidy is a Research Scholar and a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford. Cassidy is a qualified doctor in Australia and has previously worked in hospital and laboratory-based medicine, human biosecurity, and communicable disease public health.

Dr Simeon Innocent

NHS junior doctor

Simeon is an NHS junior doctor, currently working in the Thames Valley Deanery. He has an interest in high-impact health interventions and the role of artificial intelligence in medicine.

Professor Mike Bonsall

Professor of Mathematical Biology

Mike Bonsall is a population biologist and has research interests across a range of disciplines including biodiversity, ecology, evolution, health, and economics.

Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn

Consultant

Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn is a consultant, currently working for The Life You Can Save in philanthropic outreach. She is also CEO of WANBAM, a mentorship program for women and non-binary people.

Contact Us

Please reach out if you have questions or email us covidstudy@zoo.ox.ac.uk