National study launched to investigate COVID-19 infections in care homes, led by IHI's Professor Laura Shallcross MBE.
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.
In June 2020, UCL researchers set up a national research study called “VIVALDI” which is the largest COVID-19 care home research study in England. We are working with a number of large and small independent care home chains across England including Four Seasons Healthcare, HC-One, The Orders of St John, 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 and how effective vaccines are against infection, to inform decisions around the best approach to COVID-19 testing in the future.Between June 2020 and April 2022, we tested around 6000 staff and residents across approximately 220 care homes in England and estimated the proportion who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past and have antibodies. These tests were repeated over time to learn how COVID-19 spreads in care homes and how long the antibody response to infection and to vaccination lasts and whether this helps to prevent re-infection with the virus. The study has subsequently been extended and a further two or three rounds of antibody testing are planned in 60 care homes between April 2022 and March 2023. By linking the antibody results to national data on PCR testing, vaccination, hospital admissions, and deaths, from approximately 300 care homes about 40,000 staff and residents, we can find out how many people have been vaccinated, how many people have been infected and how many are admitted to hospital or die following COVID-19 infection. This has allowed us to estimate the vaccine efficacy against infection and against severe outcomes like hospitalisation and / or death and how this changes over time.
In collaboration with researchers at the University of Birmingham, we have been and will continue to perform more in-depth tests that tell us about the different components of the immune response to COVID-19 and to vaccination and how these change over time. We also performed in-depth interviews with several 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.
Our results have been and will be used to inform national policy on COVID-19 testing and vaccination to prevent infections in care homes.
The study started in June 2020 and will run until 31 March 2023.
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
Professor 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 Oliver Stirrup, Institute for Global Health
Miss Borscha Azmi, 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
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
Dr Gokhan Tut, University of Birmingham
Professor Markus Ralser, Francis Crick Institute