The Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) and Research Luxembourg (RL) have announced that the last round of testing of CON-VINCE study participants is due to start this month.
Originally launched in April 2020 under the aegis of the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Taskforce, the CON-VINCE study aims to evaluate the prevalence and dynamics of the spread of COVID-19 within the Luxembourgish population, with a specific focus on asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic individuals. The last round of testing of the CON-VINCE participants is due to start in April 2021, approximately one year after the first set of visits upon inclusion in the study. The final wave will provide a comprehensive insight into the evolution and transmission of the disease over an extended timeframe, particularly from an immunity perspective.
Under the leadership of Prof Rejko Krüger, Director of Transversal Translational Medicine (TTM) at the LIH, CON-VINCE aims to detect asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic (oligosymptomatic) carriers by testing a panel of over 1,800 individuals, representative of the Luxembourgish population, for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and monitoring them over twelve months through a series of follow-up visits.
The annual follow-up testing phase under the project will begin on 19 April 2021and is set to run over five to six weeks. As with the previous rounds of testing, all participants will be subjected once to a nasopharyngeal swab. Blood and stool samples will also be collected once as part of these follow-up visits, with the support of the laboratories Ketterthill, Laboratoires Réunis, BioneXt Lab, as well as of LIH and the National Health Laboratory (Laboratoire National de Santé - LNS) as associated partners for biospecimen collection. Biological sampling will be complemented by collecting additional information on confinement measures and vaccination through short follow-up questionnaires.
“From an operational perspective, participants will be asked to fill out the questionnaire provided through our partner TNS-Ilres. Upon completion, they will receive a voucher for sample collection at one of our partner laboratories. Collected samples will then be sent to the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL) for further analysis and storage”, explained Prof Rejko Krüger, coordinator of CON-VINCE.
Specifically, the collected nasopharyngeal swabs will undergo PCR testing to detect the presence of the SARSCoV-2 virus, while blood samples will be analysed for antibodies (serological testing) to assess whether the participants have mounted an immune response following exposure to the virus or after vaccination.
Prof Krüger added: “We are expecting to obtain crucial information from this annual follow-up, particularly as pertains to the persistence of the antibody response over a full year. Moreover, this last visit will also allow us to analyse cellbased immunity, thereby giving us a more complete picture of the global immune response against the novel SARS-CoV-2”.
He concluded: “For this reason, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our partners, and specifically to the diagnostic laboratories and TNS-Ilres, for their unfaltering support and seamless collaboration throughout the past year, as well as to all volunteers who agreed to participate in the study. I take this opportunity to stress again the importance of their renewed participation, particularly in the context of this final wave, without which we would not be able to generate meaningful data and research outcomes for patients and the population in general”.
It should be noted that only participants previously enrolled in CON-VINCE will be contacted. The study is not recruiting any new volunteers.