Children and staff in five H&F primary schools are helping Public Health England doctors understand more about COVID-19, thanks to a pioneering new testing programme.
Children and staff will be tested for coronavirus, and the hope is that the results will improve knowledge of the virus among the health experts trying to beat it.
The primary schools involved - Addison, St Mary’s RC, Normand Croft, Melcombe and Avonmore - are five of the 100 schools recruited to the sKIDS study nationwide.
“The safety of pupils and school staff, as well as that of their wider families, is our most important concern in the reopening of schools,” said Cllr Larry Culhane, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Education.
“This pioneering research will increase scientific understanding of the virus, and help keep schools as safe as possible for everyone.”
The doctors and nurses involved are specialists in child medicine and healthcare, and are very experienced in keeping children happy and comfortable in these situations.
All children are given a sticker and a certificate thanking them for their help.
Dr Nicola Lang, H&F Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Studies performed in other countries make us believe that childhood infection rates and spread is low.
“We wanted to know whether children and staff can carry the virus without developing any symptoms, and whether they develop immunity against the virus.”
Tests will be carried out at three fixed points between now and October.
Doctors and nurses have already completed the first set of tests, with more than 300 children and adults being tested over just two days.
Each was tested three ways: with a cotton bud at the front of the nose; with a swab in the mouth (a bit like brushing their teeth); and a small blood test, which is painless because a numbing cream is first applied to the skin.
These tests check both whether an individual has the virus (known as the antigen test), and also whether they have had it in the recent past (known as the antibody test).
H&F Council has helped inform the science in a number of ways during this pandemic, by working with experts on improving understanding.
Dr Lang and her colleagues also worked with experts from Imperial College London and the NHS on groundbreaking research testing residents and staff in care homes.
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