Baywest Medical Centre is one of several hundred practices across Australia that has signed on to national influenza surveillance. This means that our (de identified) data regarding flu and flu-like illness is collected by the government through their research team ASPREN, at the University of Adelaide.
We do this to help with the fight against flu, with information about how much flu there is around, and the effectiveness of vaccination. All this gets fed into decision making about what goes into the next vaccine, and who should have it, etc.
What this means for you if you come in with symptoms of flu is your doctor may ask if you would like to help with this research. If yes, then a nasal swab is done here at the practice, sent direct to South Australia and that will add to the decision-making data.
An offshoot of this research this past couple of years has been the Covid-19 PCR test-at-home validation project. We know the PCR is better than the RAT for determining Covid-19 status, and if this could reliably be done at home it would save spreading the virus around more than necessary. This one is for people who ring in asking for a Covid-19 test because they are unwell etc. They will have a Covid-19 test PCR ordered at one of our local labs, and if they are interested in helping with research, a test-at-home kit is couriered out to them to be done at around the same time.
As with the ASPREN flu swabs, this material gets sent to ASPREN, hopefully to prove that the test at home PCR is just as accurate as the ones done at the collection centres.
A bonus with this Covid-19 PCR research is that participants get $50 if they do the questionnaire, and a review questionnaire, that comes with the kit.
So if you are unlucky enough to need a Covid-19 PCR and ring from home to get it, ask about the ASPREN research one as well – if you’re having one cotton bud up the nose you might as well have a do-it-yourself one as well, and get reimbursed for your efforts.