National study launched to find out about COVID-19 infections in care homes, led by Dr Laura Shallcross.
Care home residents and people who work in care homes have higher rates of infection compared to the general population. Care home residents are also more likely to be admitted to hospital or to die from COVID-19.
Currently, we do not know how many people living and working in care homes are infected with COVID-19, or how many have been infected in the past. This information is essential to work out how to protect care home staff and residents from infection.
UCL researchers have set up a national research study called “Vivaldi” with Four Seasons healthcare, a large care home chain, and the Department of Health and Social Care. The aim of the study is to find out how many care home staff and residents have been infected with COVID-19, to inform decisions around the best approach to COVID-19 testing in the future.
By testing around 6500 staff and 5000 residents across >100 care homes in England, we will estimate the proportion who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past and have antibodies, and the proportion who are infected now. These tests will be repeated over time to learn how COVID-19 spreads in care homes and how long the antibody response lasts and whether this helps to prevent re-infection with the virus. In those who are currently infected, we will also collect information on who is experiencing symptoms to help us to understand how this affects spread of infection within care homes. We will find out about how infection spreads between care homes, the community and hospitals by linking the information we collect to national data on hospital admissions and deaths.
In collaboration with researchers at the University of Birmingham, we will be performing more in-depth tests that will tell us about the different components of the immune response to COVID-19 and how this changes over time.
We will perform in-depth interviews with a number of care home staff to understand how the pandemic has affected working conditions and measures to prevent infections in care homes in collaboration with the CATCH-19 study. This is the largest care home study in England. Our goal is to use our results to inform national policy on COVID-19 testing and prevent infections in care homes.
The study started in June 2020 and will run until November 2021
We will publish regular updates in reports that will be shared with the Department of Health & Social Care. We will publish our protocol and our results in pre-print and peer-reviewed journals.
Department of Health & Social Care
Dr Laura Shallcross, Institute of Health Informatics
Professor Andrew Hayward, Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care
Dr Andrew Copas, Institute for Global Health
Dr Maria Krutikov, Institute of Health Informatics
Dr Tom Palmer, Institute for Global Health
Dr Gillian Forbes, Centre for Behaviour Change
Dr Fabiana Lorencatto, Centre for Behaviour Change
Cécile Brémont, Institute of Health Informatics (administration)
Professor Paul Moss, University of Birmingham
Dr Rachel Bruton, University of Birmingham
Mr James Robson, Four Seasons Healthcare
Dr Susan Hopkins, Public Health England
Professor Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome Trust