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“Nationwide Corona Monitoring” (RKI-SOEP Study): Survey to track COVID-19 infection and immunity in the German population

Report of October 1, 2020

The SOEP’s longitudinal samples (SOEP-Core, SOEP-IS) provide an opportunity to carry out supplementary surveys of a large, representative sample of the German population. From mid-September to mid-November, the SOEP at DIW Berlin and the Robert Koch Institute will be conducting voluntary COVID-19 infection and antibody tests on adult survey respondents in around 21,000 SOEP households. Participants in the study will perform the tests themselves.

Respondents will be sent test kits for acute coronavirus infection (PCR) and an antibody test (DBS) by mail, along with instructions and a short questionnaire on respondents’ current health status, any symptoms of disease, and any previous tests they had been given for COVID-19, in the period from early October to mid-November 2020. After completing the tests, respondents will send the test materials to RKI for laboratory analysis. The information obtained will be linked with data from the 2020 main SOEP survey and made available by the SOEP Research Data Center to researchers worldwide. Because households will continue to be part of the SOEP’s regular surveys in the years to come, researchers will be able to track the long-term effects of infection and immunity levels in the survey population.

The objectives of the study include research into the prevalence of acute COVID-19 disease, population immunity to the novel coronavirus, and the willingness to volunteer for testing. In addition, the study will promote interdisciplinary scientific exchange in COVID-19 research and the long-term provision of research findings on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study will be conducted based on approval from an ethics commission and data protection authorities. The study is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Health.