COVID-19 Anybody else signed up to the random households monitoring programme by the Office of National Statistics?

Wiebke

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Hub signed us up after being contacted by letter looking for volunteers for the monitoring programme run by Oxford University (and sharing the results with the Office of National Statistics) for checking randomised households in order to monitor the spread of Covid-19 in the community as opposed to the targeted testing.

Anyway, we didn't expect to be selected and especially not to be contacted so soon but they wanted to turn up with a do it yourself swab test within 2 hours. As hub didn't wake me up after another bad night until half an hour before they were due, there was quite a lot of hectic last minute scrambling and then a rather longer wait for somebody to turn up; but they eventually did.

The swabbing wasn't especially pleasant but not as bad as it is made out by some people. Anyway, we are in for three more tests in the coming 4 weeks. We will hear back in case a test comes back positive, which we don't expect.

But since all hub and I can practically do is staying out of harm's way as much as possible, this is something we can contribute to and help with the data that will influence the pandemic management decisions the government makes and any scientific research into the pandemic and the lessons to learn in later years.
When you are over 100 times more likely to catch Covid-19 than a fourteen year old (or in the case of my hub around 500 times with the attendant higher risk of a having a bad ride and a higher fatality rate), you do have a rather vested interest in helping to create a as good a database as possible in order to get us through the pandemic while your government has to walk the thankless and extremely difficult to master tightrope between controlling the spread of the infection and limiting the resulting economic damage/record lending. The UK is very much on the back foot already.
 

Siikibam

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Nothing here, although I got a message saying I should download the tracing app.
 

YvonneBlue

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We registered but don't appear to have been chosen to participate.
 

Wiebke

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Nothing here, although I got a message saying I should download the tracing app.
It is genuine and NOT a scam (we had to sign a consent form when doing the test with all whole list of specific permissions for the results to be used by the Office of National Statistics etc ). I think that they are selecting a number of household randomly to do so and so many tests per week across the country in order to achieve a statistically significant return and a fairly balanced spread to help with any government decisions.
We also had the option to do only the one test or stay on for another three tests.

@YvonneBlue , you may be contacted at another time - they must rustle up a larger pool of potential volunteers to cover for people opting out again or only doing the one test. We didn't expect that quick or any response at all.
 

Siikibam

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It’s probably a simple answer but if someone is/has been self isolating/shielding, why would they want to test them?
 

Wiebke

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It’s probably a simple answer but if someone is/has been self isolating/shielding, why would they want to test them?
This ongoing survey is about getting a snapshot of what is going on across all age groups and all kinds of households to get a balanced representation of the whole population as to the symptom-free Covid-19 transmission rate and the distribution of infected people (visible or not) through all age segments and through testing whole households of various sizes and age composition. The expected negative test returns will contribute to giving a more rounded picture as to where transmission is currently happening most actively (even in the silent cases) and which segments of the population are overall more stable and more careful re. potential infection/transmission.

You can have have good idea of what is currently going on and where it is mostly happening but we are helping to back that up with hard evidence. The survey helps to provide the kind of numbers on whether specifically targeted stricter measures are introduced or loosened by the government, for instance, because it gives a better idea as to how many active infections are actually out there independent of the varying numbers of targeted tests done and the number of acute cases being picked up at the testing centres - they react to demand and to capacity and are geared towards picking up cases with symptoms.

The survey is there to put those results into a wider perspective. It is there to give a general, unfocused panorama shot of how many or few infected people there are out there to serve as the background for all the other statistics that are looking at more specific areas. You can then extrapolate numbers across the whole country from the survey. It also gives you a better idea as to what percentage of cases are actually picked up by any targeted testing.

Which parts of the population are most worried about transmission and which age groups have actually the highest percentages of positive returns from their tests you get from the actual test numbers and results. But these numbers are mostly geared towards the cases with acute symptoms rather than getting a 'truer' picture of how many people are actually infected right now, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or whether they are symptom-free.
 

PigglePuggle

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We volunteered for everything, randomised swabs, antibody tests, vaccine trials, but we havent been selected yet! I did get a "vaccine volunteer newsletter" email though updating us about progress on vaccines and giving us a timeline on when they hope to start selecting vaccine volunteers... I actually havent had a covid test at all yet, but piggy daddy has had 2 and my poor daughter has actually had 8 swab tests because of her job working with learning disabled people who dont understand masks and cannot socially distance- if she or the baby has a temperature or a cold or allergy symptoms the childminder and her work demand a negative test result before they can proceed back into real life!
 

Wiebke

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We volunteered for everything, randomised swabs, antibody tests, vaccine trials, but we havent been selected yet! I did get a "vaccine volunteer newsletter" email though updating us about progress on vaccines and giving us a timeline on when they hope to start selecting vaccine volunteers... I actually havent had a covid test at all yet, but piggy daddy has had 2 and my poor daughter has actually had 8 swab tests because of her job working with learning disabled people who dont understand masks and cannot socially distance- if she or the baby has a temperature or a cold or allergy symptoms the childminder and her work demand a negative test result before they can proceed back into real life!
It's our first test, too. My neighbour had to self-isolate for 5 days last week until she got (thankfully negative) test results back when her own son had a fever and a cough. As she is teaching assistent for children with learning disabilities, she has the same issue as your daughter...

To be honest, I was totally surprised as I never expected us to get selected in the first place!
 

PigglePuggle

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It is actually very important to swab test people less likely to get infected too to give a clear picture of prevalence in the community, for the number of cases per 100,000 people stats- those influence local lockdowns and also help with NHS planning- if you only test high risk groups and people with symptoms it may look like half the population has the virus, whereas even in areas seeing a big spike it is still only about 3 people in every thousand who are testing positive- a lot, but not as many as you might find from swabbing just a uni hall of residence 3 days after an illegal party where 3 in 10 might test positive!
 

Siikibam

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Thank you @Wiebke very thorough. Yes it does make sense to test randomly to see if there is a correlation in terms of infection rates and where it’s prevalent. Hopefully with more concrete data they’ll be better able to plan resources and lockdowns as necessary. I’ve mentally prepared myself for another lockdown.
 

PigglePuggle

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Yes I am ready for another lockdown too, if we can just wait until I have filmed my lab classes ready for "plan B" next Monday then I can happily stay home zooming and teaching online until Christmas! I would miss the swimming pool and zumba classes if those got stopped, but otherwise apart from buying piggy veg and going to the vets I think I can manage my whole life from home really!
 

Wiebke

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I kind of start feeling like we have won the lottery - just no
Thank you @Wiebke very thorough. Yes it does make sense to test randomly to see if there is a correlation in terms of infection rates and where it’s prevalent. Hopefully with more concrete data they’ll be better able to plan resources and lockdowns as necessary. I’ve mentally prepared myself for another lockdown.
So have we; not that there will be a lot of change in our daily life anyway!
But I will miss our walks around various National Trust parks and arboretums every 2-3 weeks that give us a bit of a change of scenery while still feeling very safe with the walks either being wide mown areas to allow people to pass safely or arranged as a one way system. Since it is now mostly back to the old folk during the week, distancing discipline is very good. It is a place where all the more vulnerable people can come for safe outing, especially those that do not feel comfortable around shops and local busy city parks where distancing is not as easy and is often disregarded. Getting lost on little country lanes or deciding when to have the obligatory tea break is about as exciting as life gets right now!

I just thought it would be interesting to have a bit of a discussion around the various surveys and testing methods and what they are for.
 

Merab's Slave

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Like @PigglePuggle I signed up for assorted tests and vaccine trials but apart from the newsletter haven’t been approached.
I did have an antibody test which came back negative much to my surprise as I was sure I had it back around Christmas or New Year.
I do agree with those of you who have said we should do what we can to help.
 

Wiebke

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Like @PigglePuggle I signed up for assorted tests and vaccine trials but apart from the newsletter haven’t been approached.
I did have an antibody test which came back negative much to my surprise as I was sure I had it back around Christmas or New Year.
I do agree with those of you who have said we should do what we can to help.
In the end, we all profit from our government and research scientists having clear evidence and hard numbers they can work with to make vital decisions in an unprecedented situation where they very little they can go on by anyway.
This is not the time to be selfish... which sadly too many people are since the novelty factor has long worn off by now and there is too much false information and too many people stirring their own pots out there. :(

It is admittedly a lot easier to be disciplined when you know that your life and long term health are at much higher risk. Even when the ceiling is falling on your head at times, to use a German expression.
 
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