Covid-19 lateral flow test depicting the UK Health Security Agency and the Office for National Statistics' new winter research study

UKHSA and ONS launch winter Covid-19 study

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced a new Covid-19 study will help healthcare leaders understand the prevalence of Covid-19 and better gauge the potential for increased demand.

The winter Covid-19 infection study (WCIS) will be conducted in partnership with the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

WCIS will involve 32,000 lateral flow tests being analysed each week to give the government and NHS a broad representation of how the virus is impacting the population.

Chiefly, fluctuations in the infection hospitalisation rate, which will enable UKHSA to more reliably assess whether the health service is likely to experience elevated levels of demand.

                                                                     Video credit: Canva

ONS and UKHSA also collaborated on the coronavirus infection study which begun just a month after the pandemic started and lasted until March 2023.

Recognised as the gold standard for surveillance of the virus, the study investigated over 11 million swab tests and three million blood tests.

“The data we collected alongside the ONS during the pandemic provided us with a huge amount of valuable insight, so I am delighted that we are able to work together again to keep policymakers and the wider public informed in the coming months,” said UKHSA’s director general of data, analytics and surveillance, Professor Steven Riley.

“UKHSA continues to lead the way internationally on COVID-19 surveillance and by re-introducing a study of positivity in the community, we can better detect changes in the behaviour of the virus.”

The news comes shortly after UKHSA announced the launch of its new dashboard to centralise all infectious disease and outbreak data ahead of winter.

WCIS will feature up to 200,000 participants and run from November 2023 to March 2024.

Image credit: iStock

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