UniCoV Covid rapid testing research program at four Universities seeking volunteers

HSE Press Release: Thursday, 7th October 2021

- On campus installation of wastewater surveillance systems underway -

UniCoV, a SARS-CoV-2 rapid testing research program, aims to determine the feasibility of two rapid testing modalities (antigen testing and saliva PCR testing) as part of COVID-19 surveillance systems on University/Third level and Further Education campuses. To date, across four university campuses, 8,967 rapid tests have been carried out, and 1,788 people have registered to join the testing program.

As first year students are being welcomed on campus, UniCoV is entering its next phase of volunteer recruitment. In addition, the installation of wastewater surveillance systems is underway at all four University campuses: NUI Galway, Trinity College, University College Dublin and University College Cork.

Wastewater surveillance is being undertaken to monitor the prevalence of the virus responsible for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), in the wastewater from each of the four campus communities. Testing of wastewater samples began last week (Wednesday, 29th September) and will be analysed at the National Virology Reference Lab (NVRL) at UCD. This phase of the testing programme will measure the level of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in addition to the ongoing rapid testing with employees and students to help develop an early warning system for future possible waves of COVID-19 cases.

Professor Wim Meijer, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UniCoV Principal Investigator said, “A pilot study showed a very close correlation between the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material and the daily number of new COVID-19 cases.  This demonstrates the usefulness of wastewater surveillance as a SARS-CoV-2 early warning system.”

Universities have now welcomed approximately 80% of their students back to campus. First year students will start classes over the coming weeks.

Professor Breda Smyth, Chief Investigator UniCoV Project, NUI Galway and HSE Director of Public Health in the West: “With greater numbers of students and staff members on campus, it is important we take every step to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Mitigation measures are in place on all campuses, and UniCoV with its rapid tests and surveillance systems provides an added layer of protection for employees and university students.”

For more information on UniCoV see https://unicov.org/


Last updated on: 07 / 10 / 2021