By chance and completely at random, we were invited to participate in a national COVID-19 research study being run jointly by the Office for National Statistics and Oxford University. The aim is to track a large cohort of people from different ages, backgrounds and regions for a year to follow the progress of the virus. The results will influence public health policy going forward.
We agreed to take part and this involves regular self-testing – once a week for the first five weeks followed by monthly tests thereafter. The tests themselves are unpleasant – a swab wiggled around the back of the throat that makes you gag and then jammed up a nostril that tickles painfully and makes you sneeze. I squeeze my thumb hard to create a sensory diversion. It works – kind of. The news about vaccines is looking increasingly positive but we’re not out of the woods yet and so we’re pleased to be lab rats for the common good. And we get shopping vouchers for our trouble too. ‘Every little helps’ as they say at Tesco’s.
So far all our tests have been negative.