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COvid-19 Vaccine Immune Genetics (COVIG) study

An immunogenetic approach to guide the need for booster shots and combat immune failure in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine response

  • Sponsor: University of Oxford
  • Funder: Medical Research Council
  • REC reference: 21/HRA/368
  • Contact email:

What is the study about?

This research aims to study people’s response to SARS-COV-2 vaccines by looking at how a person’s genes are related to their immune response to the vaccine. This is important as some people’s immune system does not respond to vaccination as well as others.

In this new study, we will investigate whether heritable factors are important in determining our antibody response to vaccination. We plan to recruit people with higher or lower antibody levels after vaccination, and look for genetic factors that are associated with this. To do this we will be inviting people to be part of this new study who have previously participated in the separate COVID-19 Infection Survey, run by the Office for National Statistics in partnership with the University of Oxford.

This work will help us understand how and why some people have different antibody levels after vaccination. Currently we do not know exactly what having different levels of antibodies means in terms of how well people are protected against getting COVID-19, and why people should vary in their antibody response. We hope that if we can understand more about the genetic background of people with different kinds of antibody response to vaccine it will help us and others to design optimal booster strategies and inform vaccine policy and rollout.

Who can take part?

We have specially chosen people to invite to join this study so that we have participants with a range of different antibody responses following vaccination to analyse, also taking into account other factors like age and sex. We are writing to people now, so please look out for a letter. 

This is a separate study from the COVID-19 Infection Survey and the ONS are not directly involved. Your current study worker will not know the details about this new study – and neither will the Office for National Statistics – if you have any questions about this study or would like to find out more, please contact us on the email above.

What does the study involve?

Those taking part will be asked to give a saliva sample in the comfort of their own home. We will use this sample to work out your genetic code (DNA) from genetic testing. A sample collection kit with instructions will be posted to everyone who joins, who will then send the sample to us in a pre-paid Royal Mail envelope. See here for how to take a saliva sample.