The public can play a crucial role in infection outbreaks by adopting simple behaviours (such as handwashing, social distancing and increasing ventilation) to curb the spread of infection. This can save lives by preventing everyone becoming ill at once, which would mean the healthcare system could not cope and a vaccine could not be developed in time.

Germ Defence is a digital, behavioural intervention that provides simple tailored advice to help people improve their infection control in the home, using behaviour change techniques. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic it has been disseminated broadly (used more than 500,000 times) in over 150 countries, and has been included in government guidance for reducing the spread of COVID-19.

We are currently evaluating the implementation of Germ Defence through primary care, working with GP practices to recommend it to patients before examining the impact on national health outcomes from GP records of infection rates.

Anticipated impacts

As well as the immediate impact of preventing the spread of COVID-19 to reduce infection case numbers, hospitalisation and mortality, we are working with Public Health England to make recommendations and provide tools for adapting Germ Defence and other public health advice for use in more countries and in future outbreaks.


UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Medical Research Council (MRC), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)


University of Bath, University of Southampton, Public Health England

Project dates 

March 2020 – September 2021

Lead researchers