Coronavirus prevalence study to estimate infection growth rate

Taking place from 10 to 21 December, the new stage of the coronavirus prevalence study aims also to assess the impact of the restrictions imposed on 24 November on the spread of the virus. The study helps to estimate the growth rate in the spread of the virus and thereby gives important information to decision-makers in addition to the daily statistics by the Health Board.

According to head of the survey Ruth Kalda, University of Tartu Professor of Family Medicine, it takes time before changes in people’s behaviour are reflected in the spread of the virus. Now three weeks have passed since the obligation to wear masks in public rooms, the capacity limitations of rooms and the spacing restrictions of audience were imposed.

“The previous wave of our monitoring study showed that the recommendation to wear masks and keep safe distance was very well accepted. Now we can estimate whether it has also influenced the prevalence of the virus. In a situation where the prevalence has rapidly increased, it is important to regularly monitor changes, so that decision-makers would be able to give people relevant guidelines for behaviour before the holidays,” said Kalda. She claims the most efficient method for controlling virus transmission is still maintaining physical distancing.

During the study, 2,500 adult people from all over Estonia, selected based on random sample, are tested. The research company Kantar Emor started web-based interviews with those involved in the survey on 10 December. The elderly are interviewed by phone, and the interviewer completes the electronic form for the person during the interview. Thereafter the participants take a nasal swab test. This can be done in the public testing stations of different medical institutions at the time booked via the testing call centre. Disabled or elderly people and other people with impaired mobility may order a testing team to test them at home. The work of the testing stations is coordinated by Medicum.

Synlab analyses the samples in its Tallinn laboratory. Participants in the study can view their test results in the Patient Portal at or using the Testi mobile app. All those who test positive in the study will be regularly interviewed over the next two to four weeks to follow the course of the disease.

Participation in the study is voluntary. “The high participation rate in the previous stage of the survey shows that health issues are important for people and that people are very much interested in participating in the study,” Kalda said.

The research team of the study includes 17 researchers from five institutes of the University of Tartu. Synlab and Kantar Emor are involved as partners.

More information on the study is available on the University of Tartu website

Lisateave: Ruth Kalda, Tartu Ülikooli peremeditsiini ja rahvatervishoiu instituudi juhataja, peremeditsiini professor, 5698 5599,