U.K. Plans to Test Prevalence of Coronavirus in General Public Over Next 12 Months

Britain’s authorities plan to test a sample of 20,000 English households for COVID-19 in the coming weeks to try to establish how far the illness has spread throughout the nation.

Health minister Matt Hancock – who has faced criticism over limited testing amenities for some health and social care staff – stated Thursday the analysis would help the government understand the degree of the disease better.

Over 18,000 British people have died in hospitals of the disease up to now, and the nation is now in its fifth week of a lockdown that stops most people from leaving the house other than to buy food, exercise, or carry out essential work.

Britain’s health ministry stated initial outcomes from the research – which it’s conducting jointly with the Office for Nationwide Statistics and the University of Oxford – can be available in early May.

Twenty thousand households from across England will participate in the pilot, which shall be expanded to 300,000 households throughout the U.K. over the next 12 months.

Participants will provide weekly samples from self-administered nose and throat swabs for the first five weeks, which can present if they currently have the virus, and then month-to-month samples for the following 12 months.

Adults from around 1,000 households will also provide blood samples to see if they’ve developed antibodies following an earlier infection with COVID-19.