Combining the risks of social congregation and connectivity among university employees and students with the transmissibility of emerging virus variants, the possibility of an unvaccinated or partially vaccinated student population returning to campus activity for the academic year 2021/22 presents new and significant challenges.
To facilitate the safe, continual return to on-campus learning and teaching for University students and staff, UniCoV will explore effective rapid testing and surveillance systems within third-level institutes to assist with the early identification of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2. Findings will inform the development of early warning systems and expedite future outbreak prevention and control.
UniCoV is a multi-site, randomised controlled clinical study led by the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) in partnership with Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College Dublin (UCD) and University College Cork (UCC). Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the four universities and the HSE and supported by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science and Department of Health, UniCoV will further develop and apply testing, screening and surveillance strategies, proven tools used by Public Health to assist with early warning systems for disease, in the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Ireland. Involving both students and staff, the UniCoV study explores the feasibility and acceptability of self-reporting, self-testing and biosamples surveillance systems to assist with the safe and sustainable re-opening of Higher Education Institutes’ (HEI) campuses, and society more broadly.