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Serology study

A study to help us understand the spread of the coronavirus

UK Biobank participants and some of their relatives are taking part in urgent research into the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Thanks to your participation and the data that we already hold about you, UK Biobank is at the forefront of health research and is in a unique position to carry out vital research into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 116,000 of you volunteered to participate, including – for the first time – children and grandchildren of UK Biobank participants. This extraordinary response enabled us to meet our target and select 20,000 individuals, representative of the UK population. This level of participation means we can monitor the rates of previous coronavirus infection in different parts of the country according to age, sex, ethnicity and socio-economic status.

We are collecting monthly blood samples from those participating in the study, as well as information on any COVID-19 symptoms they have experienced. These data will enable us to determine the extent of previous infection in different regions across the UK as we come out of lockdown. Because we are collecting samples on a monthly basis we will also be able to measure the extent to which antibody levels wane over time, which will be of vital importance for informing us about natural immunity to coronavirus.

First results from this study have revealed substantial variation in rates of previous COVID-19 infection across the UK. It found evidence of previous infection in 7.1% of the study population, but with large variation in rates between different parts of the UK and between different demographic groups.

View the full results

“I thought taking part might help to lessen the impact of this current situation and I wanted to help however I could. I am sure the data will be beneficial to the scientists and it may in the long run help to keep people like my mum and dad safer too. It is a tiny contribution to make for potentially a big benefit.”

A relative taking part in the study

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