The Vivaldi study is being expanded to test 340 care homes to improve researchers’ understanding of how COVID-19 is impacting care homes in England.
The ‘Vivaldi 2’ study, led by University College London (UCL) and funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), will more than triple in size, to provide a detailed picture of coronavirus infection across England. The expanded study began in June 2020 and is predicted to last to April 2022. The exact end date will be determined by how prevalent COVID-19 is in the tested care homes.
As part of the expanded research study, 14,000 care home residents and staff will be tested quarterly for their immune response to COVID-19, which will help inform future treatments for the virus. The study currently tests staff and residents across 100 care homes.
Researchers will analyse how antibody and cellular immunity to the virus differs among different groups and help shape the planning and national public health response to COVID-19 as well as wider social-care policy.
The Government said the study will help complement their work to support the care sector including this week’s launch of visitation trials in a number of care homes with a rollout planned across care homes in December.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said, ‘Expanding this brilliant study, with the support of UCL, is another step towards improving our understanding of the virus. Testing people's antibody reaction to COVID-19 is crucial in helping us to control the spread of the virus, particularly amongst people who are vulnerable. The more we know about this virus and are able to control it, the safer it will be for people in care homes.’
The Government said the expanded study will:
- Provide a larger and more nationally representative sample of care home residents and staff, allowing the Vivaldi 2 study team to provide more robust estimates across the population.
- Address important immunity research questions such as whether individuals can be infected twice, how quickly neutralising antibodies wane and whether the immune response in the elderly is the same in younger generations.
- Link immunity data with epidemiological data to better understand the links between infection, demography and clinical outcome on the elderly and the impact of care-home characteristics on the spread of the virus in the sector.
- Offer an opportunity to work with a wider range of small care home chains and independent providers to ensure results are representative to all care homes in England.
The Vivaldi 2 study uses trained phlebotomists to draw blood from care home residents and staff which is then used to test for the presence of antibodies for COVID-19. This data is cross-referenced with DHSC-delivered swab testing in care homes to analyse prevalence of the virus over time.
Dr Laura Shallcross of UCL Institute of Health Informatics said, ‘Testing in these new homes is being phased in through November. Understanding both the antibody immunity and cellular immunity responses as part of the expansion of the original Vivaldi study will provide crucial data to help inform future treatments for COVID-19, including vaccine development.’
For more information about the Vivaldi study, visit the UCL Institute of Health Informatics.
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