Students at NUI Galway and University College Cork have come forward to describe their reasons for joining the UniCoV testing programme and how they are finding it. We want to take this opportunity to thank all of our study participants and especially Allyson, Conor and Fidaa for their willingness to give us some feedback and help promote engagement in the UniCoV study.

I was motivated to get involved in the UniCoV testing programme so I could feel safer returning to the on-campus, in that I could feel more confident that I wasn't sick and spreading COVID-19 to others. I find the tests VERY quick and easy. Being able to complete the rapid test from the comfort of my own home is super convenient.

The Pros- Feeling confident each week that I am not sick and can safely interact with others

The Cons - Sometimes, the only reason I have to travel to campus is to drop off the saliva sample since I have all my classes online some Mondays.

I would recommend volunteering for the UniCoV study as it assists in making the campus a safer place to be during these difficult times. This study can help ensure we can enjoy all the resources NUI Galway offers instead of only doing university online! 

Allyson Wood, College of Medicine, NUI Galway

My name is Conor Lee and I am a 3rd-year medical student at NUI Galway. I chose to take part in the UniCoV programme as I felt it was a great way to play my part in helping us all get back to normal college life. If the majority of students were to regularly test themselves, then cases would be kept to a minimum and we could enjoy the benefits of the on-campus experience which we all missed last year.

The testing process is quick and easy and takes all of 20 minutes in the morning. I was assigned to the 8-week programme and it quickly became part of my morning routine on Mondays and Thursdays. The antigen test is slightly uncomfortable but it lasts no more than 20 seconds.

There are several benefits to taking part – the most prominent being the peace of mind that comes with a negative result. Having received a negative result, I am much more comfortable attending social and sporting events, as well as meeting my family. My parents in particular were delighted to hear that I was taking part as they are much happier seeing me knowing that I have recently been tested and have a negative result.

I would recommend the UniCoV testing programme to each and every student as the benefits are numerous in amount. For the sake of not only yourselves but also your friends, family, classmates, lecturers, etc., the UniCoV programme can help keep us all safe and well as we aim to get back to the college experience with which we are all so familiar.

Conor Lee, College of Medicine, NUI Galway

“In early 2020, I had very minor symptoms of Covid-19 but I was not eligible to do the test, so it was never confirmed. However, I realized later that it was highly likely to be Covid-19 as my flatmate had positive results after severe symptoms. The virus might have been transmitted by me or by him, nobody knows. Even with quarantine, two weeks of incubation is enough time to pass the virus before any symptoms appear, plus that there are many asymptomatic cases. With the country being opened up and the universities are back to welcome the students, it is essential to put an early warning system in place and the UniCoV test programme is a massive step on that path. It is very easy to test and does not require any special skills, I have been doing the test twice a week with immediate results so I could be more confident that I am not putting anyone at any risk, especially vulnerable people. The vaccine does not prevent anyone from getting the virus, it only minimises the symptoms, so the test will give a chance to track the virus at an early stage and control the spread of it in the classroom or even in the local shop. Following the protocol of social distance and face covering are still our duty to protect the community, and UniCoV should be added to this protocol. I strongly recommend this project and encourage every student in the participating universities to join it. It is the time when everybody should be responsible not only to recover our social life, economy and to control the spread of the virus but also to pay our respect to all health workers because they did their duties very well and they deserve a break."

Fidaa Marouf, Dentistry Student at UCC.

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