Created by a consortium of Luxembourg research institutions, known as Research Luxembourg, the “Con-Vince” study will generate data on the transmission of the virus in a cross section of the population, informing decision-makers on how to proceed in the coming weeks.
The scale of asymptomatic individuals, who have contracted the virus but show mild or no symptoms, remains unknown because so far priority has been given to testing those with acute symptoms.
The representative panel of 1,500 participants will be selected from people aged over 18 who are asymptomatic and virus-free, people with the virus who have mild or no symptoms and those who were infected but have since recovered. Participation of volunteers from the general population is not yet required.
According to a Wednesday press release, panel participants will be recruited by market research firm TNS Ilres and tested for the virus through a specific molecular biology technique. The analyses will initially be carried out on collected nasal and pharyngeal swabs, and subsequently extended to blood and other sample types. Participants testing positive for the virus but displaying mild or no symptoms will be tracked over a period of one year, together with virus-free individuals. Conversely, symptomatic patients will be excluded from the study and undergo regular treatment instead.
The study is coordinated by Prof Rejko Krüger, director of transversal translational medicine at the Luxembourg Institute of Health.
“To the best of our knowledge, asymptomatic carriers are not systematically monitored in any of the countries affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, at present, no comprehensive data on the epidemiology and dynamics of the disease exist. Con-Vince aims to fill this gap by providing reliable information on the nature, prevalence and transmission modality of covid-19 in the Grand Duchy, therefore guiding national and international decision-makers in mounting an effective public health, political and economic response to the pandemic.”
A secondary element of the study will examine the psychological and socio-economic impact of the long-term containment measures on the general population, informing decisions about lifting the lockdown.
The study is co-funded by Luxembourg National Research Fund to the tune of €1.4 million.