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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Germ Defence updated with advice to help protect the public from COVID-19

Published: 29 June 2020

Originally developed to help members of the public protect themselves within their homes against seasonal cold and flu viruses, Germ Defence has been updated for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Germ Defence website encourages changes in behaviour to help reduce the spread of viruses. It contains the latest advice and guidelines from health experts on how to stay healthy during the current pandemic. This is particularly important for people at more risk from the virus.

Users can choose to learn about implementing simple behaviours at home, such as hand washing or keeping distance if someone in the household is ill. Goals can be set to suit individual lifestyles. Many people across a wide range of countries in Europe, Africa and Asia are already using Germ Defence.

Led by Global-NAMRIP member Professor Lucy Yardley, the Germ Defence team includes researchers and clinicians from the University of Bath, University of Southampton and Public Health England. It also includes members of the public who have helped make Germ Defence as relevant and helpful to people as possible.

A scientific trial of 20,000 people during the swine flu outbreak showed that using Germ Defence led to more hand washing and fewer colds, flus and stomach bugs. It also helped stop the spread of virus to other members of the household. The research was published in The Lancet in 2015:

Little, P., Stuart, B., Hobbs, F. D. R., Moore, M., Barnett, J., Popoola, D., ... Yardley, L. (2015). An internet-delivered handwashing intervention to modify influenza-like illness and respiratory infection transmission (PRIMIT): a primary care randomised trial. Lancet, 386(10004), 1631-1639. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60127-1

The research team are continuing to optimise the Germ Defence intervention in line with feedback from members of the public to ensure it is as feasible, persuasive, motivating and engaging as possible.

The Germ Defence Team are:

Lucy Yardley (University of Bristol / University of Southampton); Ben Ainsworth (University of Bath); Richard Amlot, Tim Chadborn, Carole Fry, Natalie Gold (Public Health England); Jennifer Bostock, Cathy Rice (Members of the public); James L Denison-Day, Nick Francis, Xiao-Yang (Mio) Hu, Paul Little CBE, Sascha Miller, Michael Moore, Kate S Morton, Lauren Towler, Merlin L Willcox (University of Southampton)


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