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This study will see if it is feasible and acceptable for groups of University of Oxford students and staff, who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, to test themselves, or be tested, regularly and properly, to understand the results, and to self-isolate if they are positive.

FEASIBILITY AND ACCEPTABILITY OF COMMUNITY COVID-19 RAPID TESTING STRATEGIES (FACTS) STUDY.

Much of the spread of COVID-19 happens before people get symptoms and self-isolate.  Many people with the infection never get symptoms, especially the young, which is one reason why universities across the world have suffered outbreaks of COVID-19 as students go back. One suggestion to stop COVID-19 is to test people regularly, even when they don’t have symptoms.

Regular widespread testing requires new, faster, and cheaper point-of-care tests (POCTs) to be used. One type of these tests are called ‘Lateral Flow Immunoassays’ (LFIAs).  They look and read results similar to a pregnancy test. A person has to swab their nose and throat to collect a sample, the swab goes into a tube of liquid, the liquid goes into the test and the result is given in a few minutes.  LFIAs aren’t as accurate as testing centre laboratory tests, so laboratory tests would still be needed for those with positive results to check if they really have COVID-19.  However, LFIAs may suffice to detect enough infected people before they get symptoms to help prevent the virus spreading. 

This study will see if it is feasible and acceptable for groups of University of Oxford students and staff, who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, to test themselves, or be tested, regularly and properly, to understand the results, and to self-isolate if they are positive. We will use a mobile App to collect study information. We will see how many people agree to testing, and how many carry on doing the tests regularly. We will observe what results they get, the number of COVID-19 cases, the number of cases picked up by the LFIAs, and how many by the University of Oxford’s Early Alert Service (EAS). 

Results will be used to plan further research on the acceptability and feasibility of regular testing and whether it appears to reduce the virus spreading.