SHIVERS influenza (flu) and respiratory virus research

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The ESR-led SHIVERS projects are aimed at improving the understanding of influenza and respiratory viruses and how to prevent their spread. 




About the SHIVERS-II study

The purpose of the new SHIVERS-II study is to better understand the immunity or protection people have against the flu through infection or vaccination. Findings of SHIVERS-II will help the New Zealand government make choices about what and when it is best to recommend for people to get their current flu vaccinations (shots). It will also help the government make decisions on how to reduce the impact of the spread of flu in the community. The study will also provide information that can be used to make better flu vaccines in the future.

The New Zealand Health & Disability Ethics Committee has approved SHIVERS-II (NTX11.11.102.AM25 & AM36 & AM49). SHIVERS-II is funded by the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Contract #HHSN272201400006C). 

Read more about the SHIVERS team's national science award.

SHIVERS-II objectives

  • To understand differences in how the immune system responds to the current year flu vaccine based on differences in participants’ histories of previous influenza vaccinations.
  • To understand differences in how the immune system responds to flu infections based on differences in participants’ histories of previous influenza vaccinations.
  • To measure how often and when the flu virus spreads among household members in the household transmission sub-study.  

Study Update:

SHIVERS II 2018 and 2019 came to an end with an amazing involvement and commitment from our participants.

All of these samples as well as the earlier samples provided are now being tested by our scientists to determine people’s immune responses to flu across the season against the common flu viruses.  

We are very excited to announce that SHIVERS II has been funded for 2020. The study activities will be similar to 2019 with one difference in the household transmission study in order to capture any of the household members with a flu-like illness as early as possible.(more details in the newsletter to SHIVERS participants, February 2020).

Study Update: COVID-19

Participant Documents 

SHIVERS Participants Information Sheet [PDF, 390 KB]

SHIVERS Household Participants Information Sheet [PDF, 388 KB]


As well as continuing our essential work researching influenza, the SHIVERS-II study is expanding to include testing for the SARS-CoV virus (causing the COVID-19 infection).

SHIVERS-II will play an important role in the fight against COVID-19 in New Zealand and around the world. We’re inviting you to be part of finding the solution to provide better public health measures and develop a vaccine to fight the virus.

What does this mean for you?

Your participation in SHIVERS-II is crucial to developing a global solution.

In addition to influenza testing, we will include testing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for SHIVERS-II participants and those taking part in the household sub-study.

Supported by the US National Institutes of Health as well as the New Zealand government as a key essential service, this initiative aims to answer critical scientific questions to fill in the global knowledge gaps.

Research questions include:
• What kinds of symptoms and how long do they last if someone is infected?
• How many infected people would have only mild or no symptoms? Can these people infect others?
• What is the immune response against a COVID-19 infection?
• What kinds of immune responses in the elderly that make them more prone to severe COVID-19?
• How many household members would get infected after being exposed to the first household member with a COVID-19 infection? How long does it take this to happen?

Changes in SHIVERS study processes to protect you from COVID

The SHIVERS-II study is going to include testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in addition to the influenza virus.

To protect participants and our nursing team from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, our study activities will have some changes that we are working through.

Self Swabbing 

Changes in SHIVERS study processes to protect you from COVID

To protect participants and our nursing team from the SARS-CoV-2 virus our study processes are changing and we are introducing self swabbing.
Nurses will continue to take swabs in a situation where self-swabbing is not feasible. Nurses will also take swabs during a validation trial by running a
nurse-swab and a self-swab in parallel to be sure self-swab is a valid method in our study



Information for SHIVERS-II participants

For those participating again in the 2020 SHIVERS-II study, you can find the study documents, contact details and other information on the SHIVERS-II study contacts and documents webpage 

Meet the SHIVERS-II team

SHIVERS-II is multi-agency collaboration including general practices in Wellington, as well as Compass Health(external link), ESR, the Universities of Auckland(external link) and Otago(external link)Regional Public Health(external link), the Capital Coast District Health Board(external link), and SJCEIRS(external link). SHIVERS-II is being funded by the United States National Institutes of Health (US NIH) through the St. Jude Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (SJCEIRS) in Memphis.


From left to right: Dr Nayyereh Aminisani, Dr Claire Newbern, Associate Professor Nikki Turner, Professor Tony Dowell, Robert Press, Dr Terry Quirk, Dr Sue Huang


Logos of participating agencies