The Office for National Statistics is to significantly expand its infection survey from testing 28,000 per fortnight to 150,000 by October.
The data from this will will support rapid testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 on a national and local level, helping to narrow down the areas of concern.
Letters have already been sent out to tens of thousands of homes inviting new participants to take part in the survey. Matt Hancock has encouraged anyone who receives a letter asking them to participate in the study to do so.
The ONS Infection Survey looks at the prevalence of symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 infection in the community, how this varies over time and how this varies by population broken down by age, ethnicity, geography. Results are published weekly on the ONS website.
Participants provide samples taken from self-administered nose and throat swabs and answer a few short questions during a home visit by a trained health worker. The swab tests will show whether or not participants currently have the virus. They will be asked to take further tests every week for the first 5 weeks, then every month for 12 months.
The ONS Infection Survey study forms part of pillar 4 of the government’s COVID-19 testing strategy, to conduct UK-wide surveillance testing to learn more about the spread of the disease and help inform the development of new tests and treatments.