Over the course of the year, the novel coronavirus has spread all over the world. RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment is researching the spread of the novel 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.
Not everyone becomes ill or develops severe symptoms from the coronavirus, and sometimes the symptoms are mild. Most people who have been in contact with the virus will generate antibodies. By measuring the antibodies in their blood, we will know how many people in the Dutch population have been in contact with the virus. People of different ages and in different municipalities throughout the Netherlands are taking part. The study provides important information about the spread of the virus and the development of immunity to the virus among the Dutch population.
How does it work?
In 2016, a large-scale national study was conducted on protection against infectious diseases: the PIENTER 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 PIENTER Corona Study. The first round was in April 2020.
Another round took place in June, and everyone who had signed up for the first round was contacted again. At the same time, more than 27,000 additional people, spread throughout the Netherlands and distributed across all age groups, were contacted to take part in the next round.
Anyone receiving a personal invitation could sign up to take part in the study. Participants were asked to fill in a digital questionnaire, and to collect a fingerprick blood sample (using a self-sampling set) and then send the small tube containing the collected blood to RIVM. All the 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, all previous participants will receive another invitation to participate. The timeline for the remaining rounds of the study has not been defined yet; that depends on how the situation is developing, in terms of the spread of the virus. Subsequent rounds may not occur until the beginning of 2021.
After each round, RIVM publishes the updated results on the website. The results of the first round, which took place in April 2020, have been reported in an article for publication in an international journal. The preliminary results for June are also provided in the article.