3,000 people wanted for new NI study which will show if you have had Covid-19

A new study has been launched exploring Covid-19 exposure and immunity in Northern Ireland.

Thursday, 18th June 2020, 12:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th June 2020, 12:32 pm
Ulster University is carrying out the study

Led by Professors Tara Moore and Jim McLaughlin, the novel PANDEMIC (Protective/risk factors, ANtibody response, Dna, gEnoMICs) study will also investigate the genetic risk factors for Covid-19 symptoms.

Using Ulster University’s Covid-19 app and the UK Government Rapid Test Consortium’s highly sensitive lateral flow test, the project team hopes to recruit 3,000 participants to get a better understanding of the number of people in NI who have been exposed to the virus and whether different age groups or ethnicities make antibodies.

Participants who are antibody positive will be assessed over time for up to one year to see how long their antibodies are present.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director of the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre at Ulster University commented: “This important study will give us a good indication of the number of people exposed to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland and the immune response in the general population.

“All tests will be conducted using the UK Government Rapid Test Consortium’s new highly sensitive antibody test. Our study will help to validate the test and test user experience before the government deploys these home tests to inform their recovery plans and better handle future outbreaks or even monitor the success of a vaccine when it is eventually developed.”

Professor Tara Moore, Professor of Personalised Medicine at Ulster University said: “Everyone is eager to know if they have had Covid-19. Many people with symptoms were advised to stay at home and self-isolate without being tested so we just don’t know how many people in Northern Ireland have been affected.

“This novel study is a great opportunity to find out if you have Covid-19 antibodies and help us learn more about COVID-19 exposure and immunity in Northern Ireland.

“It’s a very simple pin prick test and participants receive their results within 15 minutes. Those who test positive will be invited for a blood test. These blood samples will allow us to store DNA and perform genetic analysis to look for factors that influence how severe a COVID-19 infection could be as and when these genetic factors are discovered.”

The Ulster University PANDEMIC study is partly funded by Kingsbridge Private Hospital.

How to take part: Researchers from the Schools of Biomedical Science and Engineering are looking for volunteers between the ages of 18 and 90, whether they think they have had Covid-19 or not, to survey the presence of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the blood of the people of Northern Ireland.

Eligible participants will be asked to

- Download the Ulster University COVID-19 smartphone app

- Answer questions on their age, health and any COVID-19 symptoms they have, or have had

- Attend a one-off short drive-through appointment in the University to take a finger-prick blood test

- If participants test positive for the COVID-19 antibody they will be invited to give a blood sample

- If you are interested in participating in the study please email [email protected]