Over the course of the year, SARS-CoV-2 has spread all over the world. RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment is researching the spread of this coronavirus in various ways. In the PIENTER Corona Study, RIVM is collecting information about the number of people who have been in contact with the virus and have built up immunity following vaccination.
Not everyone becomes ill or develops severe symptoms from SARS-CoV-2. The symptoms are often mild, and sometimes people have no symptoms at all. Most people who are infected with the virus will generate antibodies. By now, much of the general population in the Netherlands can be inoculated by receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. They also develop antibodies against the coronavirus. RIVM is researching this among people of different ages throughout the Netherlands. The study provides important information about the development and duration of immunity to the virus among the Dutch population.
How does the study work?
In 2016/2017, a large-scale national study was conducted on protection against infectious diseases: the PIENTER3 study. At that time, many participants gave permission to contact them for new research. Of these previous participants, more than 3,200 people took part in the first round of the PIENTER Corona Study in April 2020.
Another round took place in June 2020, and everyone who had signed up for the first round was contacted again. At the same time, additional people, spread throughout the Netherlands and distributed across all age groups, were contacted to take part in the next round. This group of additional participants consisted of nearly 4500 people.
Participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire (provided in a digital format), and to collect a fingerprick blood sample (using a self-sampling set) and send a small tube containing the collected blood to RIVM. These blood samples are tested in the laboratory for antibodies against the coronavirus. Participants are asked to do this a maximum of 6 times over a period of 1.5 years.
At the end of September 2020 and in the second week of February 2021, all previous participants received an invitation to participate in the third and fourth rounds.
The fifth round of the study will start in the third week of June 2021. The timeline for the next round is not entirely clear yet; that depends on how the situation is developing, in terms of the spread of the virus and the vaccinations.
After each round, RIVM publishes the updated results on the website.