Frequently asked questions about Infectieradar.be

Who set up Infectieradar.be?

Infectieradar.be is part of Influenzanet, a European partnership between various universities and government agencies. Hasselt University is part of this partnership. The purpose of Influenzanet is to map and monitor the symptoms of infections, such as the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and flu, in people in Europe. The data is used for scientific research into infections, and currently into the new coronavirus.

Who can participate in Infectieradar.be ?

Anyone living in Belgium who has Internet access can participate in Infectieradar.be, voluntarily and for as long as they wish.

Why should I participate ?

In order to get the best possible picture of the situation at the moment, it is important for everyone to take part, regardless of background or risk factors. Someone who is never ill is just as capable of falling ill as someone who is often ill. Broad participation can also help us to understand why some people get infections less often.

Is Infectieradar.be the same as the University of Antwerp coronavirus study?

Both studies monitor symptoms linked to the pandemic in Belgium. With Infectieradar.be, however, we hope to establish a national surveillance system to monitor symptoms of infectious diseases over the long term, including the period after COVID; furthermore, this is being done in an international context. Our research has links with a European initiative: Influenzanet. This is a European partnership involving various universities and government agencies, which aims to monitor and map symptoms of viral infections such as flu in people in the EU member states. In addition to national monitoring, this also makes it possible to compare data at European level.

I’m not Belgian, but live in Belgium: can I participate in Infectieradar.be ?

Definitely! Infectieradar.be is interested in the situation in Belgium. Anyone living in Belgium can therefore take part even if they are of different nationality.

I’m Belgian, but live abroad: can I participate ?

No. Only people living in Belgium can participate in this study. However, if you live in Germany, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, the United Kingdom or Sweden, similar studies exist in those countries.

I had a flu shot this year. Can I participate?

The study is aimed at everyone. It doesn’t matter whether they are vaccinated against the flu or not.

How long does it take to complete the questionnaire on Infectieradar.be?

It takes about 5 minutes to register and complete the first questionnaire. Filling in the weekly questionnaire each week then takes between 30 seconds (if you have no symptoms) and a few minutes (if you have symptoms or had them during the week).

How long will the study run?

The study has no end date, but you can stop participating at any time by unsubscribing from the weekly questionnaire. You can re-register later on if you change your mind and want to take part again.

Will participating in the study cost me money?

No, participation in the study is free and voluntary.

What happens after I have registered?

In the first questionnaire you will be asked some background questions about your health and daily life. You will only be sent this questionnaire once. You will then receive a weekly email inviting you to complete a questionnaire.

What questions are asked in the background questionnaire?

The purpose of the background questionnaire is to find out a little more about each user. For most of the questions, you have the option of not answering by choosing the answer ‘I don’t know’. It takes approximately 5 minutes to complete this questionnaire.

What questions are asked in the weekly questionnaire?

The weekly questionnaire asks about any symptoms you have had since you last took part (runny nose, cough, fever, etc.). If you have had no symptoms, it will only take a few seconds to complete. If you have or have had symptoms, you can answer additional questions on when the symptoms started, whether you saw a doctor and whether you took time off work. Completing the questionnaire will take a few minutes in these circumstances.

Can I complete the questionnaire on behalf of someone else, for example my child?

Yes. In European countries that monitor infections such as flu via the Internet, most participants are between 20 and 65 years old. Little is known about the situation with these infections in children. You can therefore complete the questionnaires for your children.

I don’t know if I will always be able to complete the weekly questionnaire. Can I still participate?

Yes, you can. Simply complete the questionnaires as often as you can. The more often you participate, the more useful the collected data will be, but even someone who only participates every two weeks is helpful to the study.

I have had no symptoms this week: should I still complete the weekly questionnaire?

Yes, to gain a reliable picture of the situation in Belgium, it is important to have data about both people who are ill and those who are not ill. If only people with symptoms participate, we cannot estimate properly how the new coronavirus is developing. This is why it is just as important for people who are not ill to take part as for those who have symptoms. If you are not ill, the questionnaire will only take you a few seconds to complete.

I have symptoms: will I receive a diagnosis if I complete the questionnaire?

No, the questionnaire enables you to list the symptoms you have, but this is not in any way a substitute for a visit to your doctor, who can make a diagnosis.

I have a chronic health condition, so I often have symptoms that also appear in the weekly questionnaire: how should I complete the questionnaire?

Certain conditions give rise to symptoms from the weekly questionnaire on a chronic basis, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. You don’t need to tick these symptoms every time unless the symptoms have changed. For example, if you have rheumatism, only tick the ‘Joint pain’ box if these symptoms have recently grown worse or are different from usual.