This month we are conducting a research study to screen all pregnant women at The Ottawa Hospital for Coronavirus (COVID-19), to test for the virus and immunity against the virus. By conducting this study, we hope to better understand the burden of active COVID-19 infection among pregnant women in our community. We will also explore the impact of COVID-19 infection on newborn immunity by using existing samples collected as part of Newborn Screening Ontario. 

Am I eligible to participate?

If you are presenting to an obstetrical triage unit at The Ottawa Hospital (General or Civic campuses), you are eligible to participate in this study. Participation will occur at the campus you are currently attending for your obstetrical care. Taking part in this study is voluntary, and if you do not want to provide all of the samples (listed below), it will not affect your current or future health care.   

How do I participate?

If you are interested in participating in the study, please let the nurse attending for your care knowThey will inform you on next steps. If you choose to participate you can choose to provide one or more of the following sample types:

You can choose to provide one or more of the following sample types:

  1. Maternal swab sample (choice between two types of swabs): 
    • Nasopharyngeal swab: This type of swab is the existing standard of care at The Ottawa Hospital for COVID-19. It goes in through your nose and is pushed to the back of your throat. This sample might let us know if you have an active COVID-19 infection.
    • Oropharyngeal (throat) swab: This swab goes in through your mouth and is pushed back into your throat, by your tonsils. This sample will tell us if you might have an active COVID-19 infection.
  2. Maternal blood sample: This sample can be collected through a regular blood draw (about a teaspoon) or finger prick (about 5 drops). This sample will let us know if you currently have some type of immune response against COVID-19.
  3. Newborn screening sample: Newborn screening is a blood test done shortly after birth to look for rare, but treatable diseases. Newborn Screening Ontario is the provincial program that coordinates all newborn screening in Ontario. You can choose to have your newborn’s dried blood spot sample tested for antibodies/immunity to the COVID-19 We will use some of the existing sample to do this testing (i.e. no additional blood is needed from your newborn). 

There are no medical risks to study participation. Some people find the sample collection (the swab or blood draw) to be uncomfortable. You may learn more about your COVID-19 infection and immune response during the study. 

How often do I need to provide samples?

You will only need to provide samples one time (at your current visit), unless you return to the triage unit and are suspected with COVID-19. At that time, we will ask you for the nasopharyngeal swab and blood sample from you again, but you will have the opportunity to consent or decline.  The newborn screening sample will be collected shortly after birth, as part of standard of care. After routine testing, if you provide consent, the additional COVID-19 testing will be done on your newborn’s sample

How will I get the results of the tests?

If you choose to participate in the study, you can access the test results of your research samples through MyChart. The results from the samples we collect from you will appear within 2 weeks after collection.  The tests performed are for research purposes only. If at any point you develop COVID-19 symptoms, please follow Ottawa Public Health guidelines (e.g. self-isolate and get tested) and consult your healthcare provider  

The results from your newborn’s sample will not be available until 3-months after birth. These results will only be reported to you upon request. You can ask for your newborn’s results by emailing the study team at   

To review research results on MyChart: 

  1. To start, go to: 
  2. On the MyChart login page, enter your MyChart Username and Password and click Sign In.
  3. Once in MyChart, go to the Visitab and then Appointments and Visits from the drop-down menu. Find the date you were admitted to Triage and then view the Notes tab.   
  4. For more information on MyChart visit:  

If you have not used MyChart before:

  • You will need an activation code. Your Activation Code will be provided to you on your After Visit Summary.
  • From the MyChart login page, click Sign Up Now in the New User section. 
  • Enter your activation code and other personal verification items, such as your health card number and your date of birth. Click Next. 
  • Create a Username, Password, and Security Question 
  • Choose whether you want to receive a notification message in your personal email when there is new information available in your MyChart account (recommended). 

If you do not want to use MyChart and/or your MyChart has not been set-up by the time we get your research test results, we will try to contact you through the contact information available in your medical chart (i.e. email address or telephone).

What if my research result is positive?

If your research result is positive for active COVID-19 infection (from the nasopharyngeal swab), a member from the research team will contact you through the contact information available in your medical chart (i.e. email address or telephone number). If your research result is positive, this will be recorded in your medical chart and reported to primary obstetrical care provider or family doctor and you will be instructed to follow Ottawa Public Health guidelines (e.g. self-isolate and get tested at one of the local COVID-19 testing centres). 

Questions about your research test results can be directed to the lead doctor of this study: Dr. Darine El-Chaâr, 613-737-8899 ext. 78797 

What if I still have questions?

Please contact the study team by email: