Some 14,000 care homes are now taking part in the Vivaldi 2 study, led by University College London (UCL), which is testing residents and staff quarterly for their immune response to COVID-19.
The research will analyse how antibody and cellular immunity to the virus differs among different groups, and will help shape the planning and national public health response to COVID-19, as well as wider social-care policy.
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 study will complement the launch of visitation trials in a number of care homes this week.
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. The study is expected to run until April 2022, depending on how prevalent the virus is in care homes.
Dr Laura Shallcross of UCL Institute of Health Informatics said: “Expanding the Vivaldi study will tell us how many people living and working in care homes have been infected with COVID-19, and whether being infected once protects against future infections. This study will help us protect the most vulnerable members of society from this devastating infection.”
Testing in these new homes is being phased in through November.
By Bethany Hemsley