Frequently asked questions about Germ Defence for patients

What is Germ Defence and who made it?

Germ Defence is a website that gives simple advice to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the home. It was designed by doctors, scientists and psychologists and was tested with 20,000 people during the swine ‘flu pandemic in 2009. It has recently been updated for COVID-19.

How will using Germ Defence help me?

During the swine ‘flu pandemic, people who used Germ Defence had fewer cold/’flu infections and they were less severe. People also saw their doctor less often. We have updated Germ Defence for COVID-19 - which is caught in the same way as other viruses - and we now want to find out how effective Germ Defence is during this pandemic.

Why did my practice contact me?

To find out how well Germ Defence works against COVID-19, we have asked half the GP practices in England to send a weblink to the Germ Defence website to all their patients aged 16 and over. Afterwards, we will look at national NHS data to see if patients from the practices who sent out the weblink have less COVID-19 (and other cold/’flu viruses) than patients from the practices who didn’t.

Will you be using my data?

No, we won’t be collecting any personal data about anyone. 

What if I don’t speak or read English well?

Germ Defence is available in more than 20 languages, and these translations can be accessed from the main page on the Germ Defence website.

Do I need to sign up to take part?

No, you don’t need to sign up - just follow the weblink that your GP practice gave you to the Germ Defence website.

Should I send this link on to my friends and family?

Please don’t pass on the individual weblink you received from your GP practice to anyone else. You can send details about the Germ Defence website to others using the ‘share’ button at the end of the Germ Defence website or you can print out our infographic and give it to people who don’t use the internet. Just visit the Germ Defence website to find out how to do this.

What if I can’t use the internet?

If you are not able to access a computer or smart phone to read about Germ Defence, we hope you can ask someone else to visit the website for you and print off the infographic provided.

Who has approved the study?

The study has been approved by Yorkshire & The Humber (Leeds West) Research Ethics Committee on behalf of the Health Research Authority (reference 20/YH/0261). Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, has made this a national priority project and it also has the support of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Further questions or concerns about Germ Defence?

Please contact the Germ Defence team by e-mailing

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