Research into the spread of omikron within families

How easily does the omikron variant of the coronavirus spread within families? What role do children play in this? And does it help if you are vaccinated? The UMC Utrecht is looking for 100 families with at least one child under the age of 18 who want to participate in a scientific study into the spread of omikron within the family.

The aim of this research is to gain more insight into the spread of the new omikron variant of the coronavirus. “We want to find out to what extent the new omikron variant is spreading within families, and whether this is different from the delta variant of the coronavirus. More specifically, we look at how much the virus spreads among children, because children usually have many contacts. We are also investigating the role of vaccination,” said pediatrician and epidemiologist Patricia Bruijning of UMC Utrecht, who is leading the study.

Continue CORONAt home study

The CORONAthuis study will take place in the first months of 2022, as a follow-up to previous research into the spread of the coronavirus within households from 2020. It showed that 27.8 percent of family members also became infected when one member of their family became infected. household was infected. At the household level, this was 45.7 percent, so infection occurred in almost half of the households. Precautions such as wearing a face mask in the house or keeping a distance of 1.5 meters had little effect. Because we are now dealing with the much more contagious omikron variant and many people have been vaccinated at the same time, the 2020 study is now being followed up.

Effect of vaccination on the spread of omikron variant

“All households could participate in our 2020 survey, from families to friends living together. Now we focus specifically on families with children,” says assistant professor of infectious diseases Marieke de Hoog, who coordinates the CORONAthuis study. “Another big difference is that adults and children as young as 12 years old are now largely vaccinated; vaccination coverage is particularly high among adults. This is in contrast to the previous study, when there were no vaccines yet.” In this study, the researchers want to collect more data to see what the effect of a (booster) vaccination is on the spread of the omikron variant. “Children under the age of 12 have not yet been vaccinated, but with the data we can already make estimates about the impact of childhood vaccination on the spread of the coronavirus. We want 100 families to participate in our study.”

You can participate if:

  • You or someone in your family has tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Your family will register for this study within 24 hours of the test result being available.
  • Your family consists of at least two people, of which at least one minor child (<18 years)
  • At least one person in your family has not tested positive in the past 48 hours and no one in the family has tested positive in the two weeks before.
  • You have a smartphone or tablet.

Want to participate or more information? Check out the website: www.CORONAthuis.nl. Send an email to: [email protected] or call by phone:
06 – 11 61 92 29 (on working days during office hours).

Better advise
With enough participants, the research team hopes to gain more insight into how this virus spreads between family members as soon as possible. This knowledge is important to determine how quickly the omikron variant will spread further and to what extent (booster) vaccination or other measures can limit this. “People who are in the most contact with each other, such as family members, are most at risk of infection. That is why a survey among family members of an infected person can teach us a lot about the spread. Based on these insights, we can advise better on the usefulness and necessity of measures.”

The CORONAthuis study is part of two large European studies called VERDI and RECOVER into coronavirus infections and is funded by a European Horizon 2020 grant. This research was set up by UMC Utrecht and is being conducted by researchers in various hospitals. 100 households are needed for this study. The Utrecht Medical Ethics Review Committee has approved this study. General information about the assessment of research can be found on the website of the central government: www.rijksoverheid.nl/mensenonderzoek.

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