University of Tartu researchers continue the study on the point prevalence of coronavirus

On Thursday, 6 August, the University of Tartu invites 2,400 residents of Estonia to participate in the fifth wave of the study on the prevalence of coronavirus to understand the impact of the recent weeks’ outbreaks on the wider spread of the virus.

Head of the monitoring survey and UT Professor of Family Medicine Ruth Kalda said that researchers have kept an eye on the daily infection statistics throughout summer to come back to collecting data about the point prevalence of the virus across the country as the number of infections increases. “Cases related to the outbreak in Tartu have reached elsewhere, so we need more detailed information on whether and to what extent the virus has spread to other Estonian regions,” said Kalda. She added that while people were generally more careful in the spring, the summer inevitably brought along more active communication as well as holidays abroad. “Nobody wants the country wide restrictions to come back, so we must study whether the outbreak that started in Tartu is merely local or has become more widespread.”

According to Kalda, we should also be cautious given the results of the study on coronavirus antibodies KoroSero-EST-1 led by the University of Tartu. According to the study, only a fifth of people who have suffered from coronavirus exhibited a symptom of a viral disease. “This confirms the existing belief that a virus transmitter might not even be aware of being infectious. This is why we cannot condemn all the infected but can do a lot ourselves to minimise the spread of the virus,” said Kalda. “It is wise to avoid crowded events and parties where keeping distance is not possible, or wear a mask in such places. We should not go to parties even with the slightest symptoms of illness.”

On 6 August, the research company Emor sends an email or SMS invitation to participate in the study to people included in the random statistical sample based on the data of the population register. After the participants fill in the questionnaire, the time and place for taking the nasal swab will be agreed with them. Participation in the study is voluntary for all who receive the invitation. After analysing the data, the University of Tartu presents the findings to the Government of the Republic.

“We have been cooperating with the government to find evidence-based solutions for curbing the spread of the virus and coping with the crisis since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said UT Vice Rector for Research Kristjan Vassil.

In addition to monitoring the point prevalence of COVID-19 and the study Koro-Sero-EST, the University of Tartu is about to start two more studies in which researchers collect data on the spread and nature of the virus. In the coming weeks, the study KoroGeno-Est will be launched in which the genetic sequences of the COVID-19-causing virus spreading in Estonia will be examined to determine the source of unknown infections. Also, a monitoring system of COVID-19 based on wastewater analysis will be started to help detect broader virus spread at the earliest possible stage.

Further information:
Ruth Kalda, Head of the Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Professor of Family Medicine, 5698 5599,