News overview

Study on the risk factors for the spread of coronavirus

When is the risk of infection the highest and what risk factors play a role in this?

The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp and the Health Services of the Brussels-Capital Region are investigating when the risk of infection with COVID-19 is the highest and which risk factors play a role in this. They do this by interviewing 570 inhabitants of Brussels by telephone about a specific contact that they mentioned during contact monitoring.

The aim of this study is to identify the risk factors for the spread of the coronavirus at a time when COVID-19-related measures have been relaxed, in order to concentrate prevention measures and activities in places and at times when the risk of infection is greatest. The researchers will interview 570 people from the Brussels region by means of structured telephone interviews. During the telephone interviews, the participants are specifically asked about one particular contact they had indicated during contact tracing follow-up. The interviewers will elaborate on the environmental factors, the type of contact, its duration and intensity. This may include contacts that resulted in an infection, as well as contacts that did not. Subsequently, a case control study compares the circumstances of contacts that resulted in infection with those of contacts that did not. Because personal details such as name, address, telephone number and date of birth of both the participant and his or her contact details are not kept after the telephone call, it will not be possible to verify who had contact with whom and in which circumstances.

The study is being conducted on behalf of the Health Services of the Brussels Region, which is also responsible for contact tracing, and is being carried out in cooperation with ITM. For two months, people will be questioned for this study. The phone call may take up to half an hour.

This epidemiological study was reviewed by an independent ethics committee. On 13/05/2021, the ethics committee of the University Hospital of Antwerp issued a favourable opinion.

For more information, please contact Dr Romain Mahieu, Department of Health and Personal Care (02 552 01 40) and Brecht Ingelbeen, Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine (03 345 57 87).

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