The University of Tartu launches a study on coronavirus prevalence

The University of Tartu researchers start a three-month study on the prevalence of coronavirus in Estonia among both symptomatic and asymptomatic people; at least 16,000 people will be interviewed and invited to be tested.

At least 16,000 Estonian residents, based on a random statistical sample, will be interviewed and invited to be tested for coronavirus, the university said.

Starting on 23 April, Emor, a social and market research company, sends an electronic invitation and questionnaire on behalf of the university to the first 2,000 people who have been randomly selected to participate in the study (based on data retrieved from the population register). Phone interviews will be conducted with elderly people who cannot fill in the electronic questionnaire. Participation in the survey is voluntary and people may withdraw from the survey any time.

The questionnaire can be completed in Estonian or Russian within five days. After filling in the questionnaire, the person will receive a call from a testing call centre, jointly run by the private Estonian companies, SYNLAB and Medicum. Testing by a nasopharyngeal swab through an open car window is done in Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, Kohtla-Järve, Haapsalu, Paide, Jõgeva, Kuressaare and Kärdla. For people with special needs or for those who are unable to drive to the testing site by car, the testing will be organised at home.

Revealing the risk factors

All infected persons identified during the study will be monitored and interviewed weekly until the disease subsides. If the infected person is asymptomatic, the person will be interviewed for two weeks.

Professor Ruth Kalda from the university said that “based on the results of the study, we can draw conclusions on the actual spread of coronavirus in different population groups and provide the government with weekly evidence-based information for modifying the measures of the emergency situation”.

The study’s aim is to also reveal the main background characteristics and risk factors of infection (concomitant diseases, size of household, socioeconomic status, types of contact, etc.) and how they relate to prevalence.

The University of Tartu Clinic in Tartu, Estonia.

Founded in 1632 by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolph, the University of Tartu is the oldest and largest university in Estonia both in terms of numbers of staff and students, and the volume of its teaching, research and development activities.

For the latest developments in Estonia, follow our special blog on coronavirus.

Cover: An Estonian woman wearing a mask. Photo by Pille-Riin Priske (Unsplash).

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