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The UofT Student Cohort 2020-2021: A pandemic study

The “UofT Student Cohort 2020-2021: A pandemic study” is a collaboration led by researchers at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with scientists from the Faculty of Medicine and Mt. Sinai Hospital. This study seeks to estimate the prevalence of students living in residence and enrolled in courses delivered on campus who may have developed proteins, called antibodies, as a result of past or resolved COVID-19.  The study will explore changes in the prevalence of these antibodies among U of T students for the 2020-2021 academic year, as well as how the pandemic has impacted their mental health and wellbeing.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Do not collect your blood sample without checking the drop box schedule to know when samples will be picked up from your residence or the Gerstein library.
Thank you for your continued participation in the UofT student cohort pandemic study. If you sent in a sample in the 1st round of sample collection, please note that it has been sent to the lab. If you have filled in the baseline questionnaire and sent in a blood sample, you should have received an Uber gift card code. Your result will be uploaded as soon as it is ready. We appreciate your patience, as we work towards ensuring that the results are made available.

The next follow up timepoint (2nd sample collection) will be from March 22 until April 8, 2021. You will also receive a notification to complete a follow up questionnaire. You may have already received a kit for the 2nd sample collection. If you have not already received a kit, it should get to you in the next few days. PLEASE HOLD ON TO YOUR KITS AND DON’T COLLECT YOUR SAMPLE TILL THE STATED COLLECTION DATES.

If you require additional support for collecting your blood sample, there will be an option for you to go to a Lifelabs location to have you sample collected. Kindly email the study coordinator (uoftpandemicstudy.dlsph@utoronto.cato have a blood collection appointment made for you at a Lifelabs location near you.

The complete instructions for the 2nd sample collection will be available soon.

Aims

The study aims to estimate antibody seroprevalence to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) by sex and explore changes in antibody levels in a longitudinal cohort of on-campus University of Toronto students at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.

The findings of this study will provide important information about the COVID-19 virus. The findings of this study will help researchers better understand the COVID-19 virus and can also provide useful information for making future plans for Universities.

The results of the study will help us better understand the immune responses to the COVID-19 virus and may provide evidence to inform UofT on-campus activities over the coming months and into the next academic year. The information collected by the UofT research team will be kept private.

Study details

At three time points in the study (baseline and 2 follow-ups), participants will receive a home-based finger prick blood collection kit (collecting 1-2 drops of blood) pre-labeled with a unique study ID, as well as return labels for leakproof packaging following the guidelines for shipment of Biological Substances. A video on safe finger prick blood collection, created by a researcher collaborator on the team is available to participants online. Blood samples can be taken to a drop box location on any of the three UofT campuses, or if not possible for the participant to go to one of the drop-in locations, samples can be picked up by a courier coordinated by the study team.

The information collected from this research study will be kept private and a participant’s identity will not be revealed in any dissemination of study results. Participant’s individual data will not be shared with anyone outside of the research team.  A summary report of the results will be shared with UofT at the completion of the study.  Participation in this study is voluntary, and participants may withdraw and ask to have their survey data deleted by notifying the study coordinator. This will not result in penalty or loss of benefits to which participants are otherwise entitled. The University will not know if you decide to participate or not participate in the study.  Participation in the study will not impact students’ relationship to the VP of Students Office and the university administration, their housing, or their academics.

There is a small probability that the study may be associated with risks including illegal access to data, pain at the site of blood collection and anxiety of having an antibody test. However, steps have been taken to guide against these risks. Safety precautions will be taken to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 and participants will be expected to follow public health directives. Participant’s contact information will be collected to enable us to follow up with them in the context of this study and/or conduct contact tracing if they get exposed to COVID-19 in coming to the drop-off location sites. Contact information will however be kept separate from data collected through the research study to maintain anonymized research data.

Eligibility

Participants in this study must meet all eligibility criteria:

  • be 17 years of age or older
  • reside in Ontario (at the time of registration)
  • registered for   in-person  activities in the fall 2020-2021 academic year,  including:
    •  in-person  or  hybrid  classes
    • on campus research (as part of a registered research course. When completing the eligibility questions, please select YES to the question “Are you registered)
    • living in residence

All eligible students will have received an email from Prof. Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students, inviting you to participate. If you have not received an email, but believe you qualify, please contact the Research Coordinator at uoftpandemicstudy.dlsph@utoronto.ca.

Incentives

Participants will find out their own COVID-19 antibodies status. They will also receive a $20  Uber Eats  gift card as a token of appreciation for participating in this study for each of the three data collections (online survey and blood sample completed) for a total of $60. Students may also have the opportunity to participate in an additional study to receive an extra $40 Uber Eats gift card. This study will have no direct cost to those who choose to participate and requires minimal time.

Study Team


Dr. Shaza Fadel, Study Lead


Dr. France Gagnon, Study Co-Lead

Vivek Goel
Dr. Vivek Goel, Study Co-Lead


Dr. Sharon Iziduh, Study Coordinator

How to collect your blood sample

How to Collect Your Blood Sample Video

Blood Collection Instructions

Download the campus drop boxes and schedule

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I would like to register to participate in this study but I am not able to.
A: Registration for the study is now closed.


Q: How do I get a blood collection kit:
A: Once you have registered for the study, you will receive within two weeks, a blood collection kit in the mail, and an email asking you to complete your baseline questionnaire.


Q: Can I drop my sample off at the lab myself?
A: No, participants are not allowed to bring their samples to the laboratory. Samples should be dropped off at a collection box on campus or alternative arrangements should be made with the study coordinator.


Q: Can I bring my sample to a residence if I don’t live there?
A: No, only those participants who live in a residence with a collection box are allowed to bring their sample there. All other participants must bring their samples to one of the other locations on campus or make alternative arrangements with the study coordinator.


Q: Should I fill in the requisition form with my information?
A: No, please do not include any identifiable information along with your sample. The sample is tracked by your study ID and no personal information should be included in order for us to maintain your privacy.


Q: Do I have to withdraw from the study after receiving the Covid-9 vaccine?
A: No, you can continue to participate in the study after receiving the Covid 19 vaccine.


Q: When will I receive my results?
A: The two laboratories that are processing the samples are busy processing a high volume of samples at this time. This has delayed our study getting results to participants. As soon as we receive the results they will be available to you in the study application.


If you have any questions about the study, please contact the Research Coordinator at uoftpandemicstudy.dlsph@utoronto.ca.

For enquiries about your rights as a research participant or concerns about this study, please contact  the  Research Oversight and Compliance Office – Human Research Ethics Program, University of Toronto at ethics.review@utoronto.ca or 416-946-3273.

Registration is now closed.

If you have already registered, access to questionnaires and test results are available here:

ACCESS STUDY SITE