Covid-19, Education and Science, Estonia

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 19.05.2021, 01:54

University of Tartu monitoring study to help determine spread of coronavirus in Estonia

BC, Tallinn, 10.11.2020.Print version
Researchers at the University of Tartu are to begin on Tuesday another monitoring study of the spread of the coronavirus to determine the extent of the spread among the Estonian population, writes LETA/BNS.

The study consists of four monitoring waves to be carried out over the coming two months with altogether up to 10,000 people planned to be surveyed across Estonia.

Recent data by the Health Board indicates that the virus is also spreading outside the known outbreaks, and with a large proportion of the cases, the source of the infection is unknown. The share of cases in which the person does not have any tangible virus symptoms is also large.

Much has changed compared with the start of October, when the latest wave of the monitoring study was carried out, according to leader of the study, professor of family medicine at the University of Tartu Ruth Kalda. 

"We need to obtain an overview of the actual prevalence of the virus among the population in order to be more informed in our planning of the measures for curbing further spread of the virus, Our study is first and foremost important for assessing the hidden spread of the virus. With a representative random statistical sample, we'll have an accurate overview of the number of symptomless infections, which would otherwise not be referred to testing by a family doctor," Kalda said.

"The more extensive the hidden spread, the larger the outbreak that can be expected in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, there may also be those among the infected people for whom the course of the illness is severe and who need to be hospitalized," she said.

The monitoring study will be carried out in four phases, each of which will see 2,400 to 2,500 people tested on the basis of a random statistical sample.

Participants in the study are surveyed and a nasal swab is taken from them at a public testing point, the work of which is coordinated by private health care provider Medicum. People with disabilities, the elderly and other persons of reduced mobility can have a testing brigade collect their sample at their home. 

The samples are analyzed at the laboratory of Synlab in Tallinn and the test results are made available to patients on the patient portal. All coronavirus patients discovered during the study will be surveyed regularly to monitor the course of their illness.

Participation in the study is voluntary; however, researchers urge everyone who has been invited to take part in the study to do so, particularly in the light of the current complicated epidemiological situation.

The study is carried out by experts from the University of Tartu Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Institute of Genomics, Institute of Computer Science, Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, and Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies. 

Pollster Kantar Emor will begin surveying participants in the study on Tuesday. Samples will be collected and analyzed by Medicum and Synlab. The total cost of the monitoring study at 880,000 euros will be covered from the budget of the Ministry of Education and Research.

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