Virus Watch: Understanding community incidence, symptom profiles, and transmission of COVID-19 in relation to population movement and behaviour.

  • Funded by Department of Health and Social Care / National Institute for Health and Care Research (DHSC-NIHR), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:25 publications

Grant number: MC_PC_19070

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Start & end year

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    Department of Health and Social Care / National Institute for Health and Care Research (DHSC-NIHR), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    University College London
  • Research Category

    Epidemiological studies

  • Research Subcategory

    Disease transmission dynamics

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group


  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



This COVID-19 Rapid Response award is jointly funded (50:50) between the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. The figure displayed is the total award amount of the two funders combined, with each partner contributing equally towards the project. COVID-19 is set to become a global pandemic. Near real time information is needed to inform NHS planning and public health response. This includes community incidence (regardless of seeking care), risk factors for disease, clinical symptoms, case hospitalisation and mortality ratios, asymptomatic viral shedding, asymptomatic infection, household transmission risk and population behaviours during periods of wellness and illness (including social contact and movement, respiratory hygiene and health seeking behaviours). This information can only be gathered accurately through large scale community studies. Our experience of the MRC/Wellcome FluWatch study and ESRC BugWatch study allows us to rapidly establish two six-month national household cohorts (April-September 2020) and (October 2020-March 2021) of 25,000 individuals each (2,500 in each region of England and Wales) for online symptom and behaviour reporting and optional use of an app allowing their mobile phones to be used as GPS trackers enabling secure transfer and analysis of detailed movement patterns. Two sub-cohorts (10,000 individuals each) will also self-swab when ill for detection of COVID-19 and other circulating viruses. We will also conduct a London based study (200 households) following household contacts of COVID-19 cases for 28 days with daily symptom reporting, regular swabbing and baseline and follow up serology to investigate household transmission and asymptomatic infection and virus shedding. We will use data from Virus Watch to train whole population prediction models based on social media and search engine data and develop spatiotemporal models. Findings will be rapidly disseminated via online dashboards informing the public and decision makers.

Publicationslinked via Europe PMC

Last Updated:41 minutes ago

View all publications at Europe PMC

Comparative effectiveness of different primary vaccination courses on mRNA-based booster vaccines against SARs-COV-2 infections: a time-varying cohort analysis using trial emulation in the Virus Watch community cohort.

Tracking Changes in Mobility Before and After the First SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination Using Global Positioning System Data in England and Wales (Virus Watch): Prospective Observational Community Cohort Study.

Differential Risk of SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Occupation: Evidence from the Virus Watch prospective cohort study in England and Wales.

Relative contribution of essential and non-essential activities to SARS-CoV-2 transmission following the lifting of public health restrictions in England and Wales.

A case-crossover study of the effect of vaccination on SARS-CoV-2 transmission relevant behaviours during a period of national lockdown in England and Wales.

Digital mHealth and Virtual Care Use During COVID-19 in 4 Countries: Rapid Landscape Review.

Exploring the relationship between job characteristics and infection: Application of a COVID-19 job exposure matrix to SARS-CoV-2 infection data in the United Kingdom.

Occupation, Worker Vulnerability, and COVID-19 Vaccination Uptake: Analysis of the Virus Watch prospective cohort study.

Migrants' primary care utilisation before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in England: An interrupted time series analysis.