What's the STORY


The Oxford Vaccine Group looked at researching ways of surveying how well protected we are from infectious diseases by collecting blood samples from people who represent different groups across society.

Why did we do this study?

One of the ways our bodies develop protection against infectious diseases is by developing antibodies, either after an infection or following a vaccination.  We decided to do a blood test to measure the antibody levels against important diseases, including those that are vaccine preventable and the virus that caused the COVID-=19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2.

We took over 3500 blood samples from nearly 3000 young people aged from birth to-24 years of age to look at their antibody levels against important infectious diseases. We were particularly interested in Group C meningococcus (MenC) and diphtheria and in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We did this to help us understand whether changes need to be made to the UK vaccine schedule, and tell us about the number of infections with COVID-19 in the UK.

What happened in this study?

  • We enrolled children and adults aged from birth to 24 years old.
  • There was a single visit with a blood test.
  • We asked if participants would be happy to take be approached for additional blood and saliva samples at 2 monthly intervals (this was optional and the maximum number of additional visits were 3)
  • We asked participants some basic information including age, gender, vaccination history.
  • We arranged to see participants in a clinic in a location close to them or in some cases in their home.
  • Participants seen in clinics were offered £20 reimbursement in the form of a voucher for taking part in the study. If they were seen at home there was no reimbursement.
  • Local anaesthetic skin cream was used for children to reduce any discomfort from blood sampling
  • The whole appointment took around 45 minutes.

We didn’t actively look to enrol individuals with known or suspected COVID-19, but instead wanted a snapshot of the general population. The test was not able to tell if there was coronavirus present at the time of sampling. It is important to understand that we did not provide individual participants (or their families) the results of their test. Although this might seem unusual, this was an important measure to try and make this study as accurate as possible. Put simply, we did not want to recruit too many people who felt they, or their child, might have had COVID-19 and ‘want to check’. This would have given us inaccurate information about the spread of COVID-19 and immunity to this virus across the whole population.

Taking part in this research study was completely voluntary.

Additional cohort: We were particularly interested in BAME communities that have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19



The results from the COVID-19 aspect of this study are available at:

Community seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in children and adolescents in England, 2019–2021 (Archives of Disease in Childhood)


Press interest in this study included :

OVG study sheds light on coronavirus immunity in children (BBC Newsnight)

Study Chief Investigator Matthew Snape discusses the re-opening of schools in Autumn 2020 (The Guardian)


Study Sponsor

For any other questions or information regarding the study, please contact the study team on:

Email: whatsthestory@ovg.ox.ac.uk

Tel: 01865 611400

Study Site Locations

The study was conducted at sites in the following locations:


  • Bradford
  • Bristol
  • Leeds
  • Imperial (London)
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • Plymouth
  • Sheffield
  • Southampton
  • St George’s (London)
  • West Suffolk