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North York General Hospital

COVID-19 Cohort Study (CCS): Study of the epidemiology of COVID-19 in healthcare workers and their households

Information Sheet for Healthcare Workers

Status: Currently enrolling Click here to join

Study investigator: Dr. Kevin Katz, Infection Prevention & Control
Funder: Weston Foundation

What is the purpose of the study?
To better understand how many people develop COVID-19 infection, how often infection is spread in households, and whether there are microbes or early immune responses (in our nose) that protect or make people more susceptible to infection. This study is for research purposes.

Who is being asked to participate? 
People working in an acute care hospital who:
    • are 18 to 75 years old
    • work at least 20 hours per week (physicians and nurse practitioners who care for ill patients at least 8 hours per week are also eligible)
    • available for the next 3 months (not retiring or going on leave) and
    • have convenient access to a computer or a cell phone with internet access (to complete surveys and receive information about the study), and

What do I need to do if I decide to participate?
    1) An online survey at enrolment to assess your current risk factors (~15 minutes)
    2) Short online surveys every week about whether you have had any symptoms (~2 minutes).  One week in five, the survey will be a bit longer and ask about your exposure to other ill people (~5-7 minutes)
    3) When you develop an acute respiratory illness (cough, fever, shortness of breath, excessive tiredness):
            i. Have a swab collected to test for COVID-19 at your workplace, an MD, NP, or COVID-19 assessment centre – AND inform the study of your submission and the results – OR - if you are at home when you become ill: Collect your own nasal swab and send it to the study for testing (you will be informed of results sent to the study);
            ii. Complete online illness reports every day you have symptoms (~ 5 minutes for the first and ~2 minutes for all others);
    4) If you agree (optional): provide blood specimens at the beginning and end of the study - to test for infections without symptoms. We will email you with details about dates and locations if you agree. If these dates do not coincide with a scheduled shift, we will work with you to find one that does.


If you have others living in your home…
We ask that you involve them in the study to help us measure risk factors for transmission within households. Everyone who sleeps in the same dwelling as you 3 nights per week, on average, is being asked to participate.

If others in your home join the study, you are asked to…
    • Do the 4 things listed above AND
    • Give us an email address to contact the adults who give you permission to include them in the study so we can send them an invitation to participate
    • Do a very short online survey about each child (about 2 minutes per child)
    • Complete weekly symptom reports for everyone in your home (about 1 minute per person)
    • Collect [or supervise the collection] of swabs to test for COVID-19 for ill children and complete illness reports for them (~ 2 minutes per day)
    • When someone in your home becomes ill, collect [or supervise the collection] of nasal swabs and pledgets (small absorbent papers put in the nose) for yourself and/or your children on Days 1, 3, 5, 7 & 10 to test for immune responses - to see if there are differences in the microbes in the noses of people who get COVID-19 and those who don’t. This is asked of ALL households where a person has COVID-19 and about 1 in 3 households where a person submits a swab that tests negative for COVID-19.

Adults (18 years or older) are asked to do:
    1) one baseline questionnaire (~5 to 15 minutes)
    2) an online report every 5th week (~5-7 minutes)
    3) when they develop an acute respiratory illness (cough, fever, shortness of breath, excessive tiredness):
            i. Submit swabs for testing to their MD, NP, or COVID-19 assessment centre and inform the study of the submission and results – OR – collect their own nasal swab to test for COVID-19 and send it to the study; and
            ii. Complete online illness reports every day they have symptoms (~ 5 minutes for the first and ~2 minutes for all others)
    4) when someone else in the home becomes ill, collect swabs and pledgets (small absorbent papers) on Days 1, 3, 5, 7 & 10 to test for immune responses.
This is asked of ALL households where a person has COVID-19 and about 1 in 3 households where a person submits a swab that tests negative for COVID-19.


How long will the study last?
The study will last until the end of this new virus spread in Ontario. This means that the study will be at least 4 months and may be as long as 12 months.

Are there any risks to participating in the study?
    • There are no physical risks to participating in the study. Collecting a nasal swab is uncomfortable. If you choose to volunteer for blood specimens to be taken, you may have some pain and bruising at the site.
    • There is no cost to taking part in the study. All swabs and pledgets are provided by the study. The study pays to have supplies shipped to your home and returned to the lab.
    • There is no direct benefit to being in the study beyond having access to test results. However, information learned from this study may help us reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
    • Taking part in the study is voluntary. You can leave the study at any time by contacting the study coordinator. You can refuse to answer any question you do not want to answer.

Click here to join