RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment is carrying out research among families in the Netherlands where someone has contracted the novel coronavirus. We want to find out more about the course of the disease. We are gathering more information about how long symptoms last, how long it takes to recover, and how people build up immunity to the virus. In addition, we want to know how the virus spreads within a family and if children also pass the virus on to others.


In cooperation with GGD Utrecht, various families took part in this study. A total of 54 households took part up to mid-April, involving 239 participants, including 185 family members of an infected patient. In total, the study involved 123 adults and 116 children between the ages of 1 and 16 years old. In the coming weeks, more families will be participating in the study. It is not possible to sign up to participate. The new households will be selected in consultation with the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD).

Structure of the study

The study will be conducted among a hundred families that include coronavirus patients. Once there is confirmation that someone is infected, a nurse visits the family as soon as possible. The nurse then collects nose, throat, saliva and blood samples. A questionnaire is filled in, together with the family. This questionnaire includes questions about symptoms, the type of contact with the person who has a COVID-19 infection, the living situation, and any underlying health conditions. The family then keeps track of their symptoms for a month. The family also collects stool samples for testing. If a family member becomes ill, we take nose and throat samples again and check if this person also has COVID-19. In any case, we take samples from the whole family two more times: 2-3 weeks and 4-6 weeks after the first home visit.

Processing the results

The research period lasts about 6 weeks for each family. The family members keep track of their symptoms for a month, and we collect samples from them several times. For that reason, the results will be processed six weeks after all the families have had their first home visit.

Initial results

Although the study is still ongoing, preliminary results are already available. For example, there are no indications that children under the age of 12 were the first infection in the family. Children who were found to be infected with COVID-19 were less likely to have symptoms than adults. In addition, respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat, coughing and nasal colds, were less common in children than in adults. More results are expected by June 2020. Once new results are available, they will be posted on this page.