The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, has commenced volunteer enrollment in a study to determine how many adults are in the United States without a confirmed history of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The presence of antibodies in the blood indicates prior infection. In this “serosurvey,” NIH researchers will collect and analyze blood samples from as many as 10,000 volunteers to provide critical data for epidemiological tools. The goal: get a better handle on exactly how many people are infected by the novel coronavirus in the United States.
The study will be driven by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD) and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) investigator with support from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and the National Cancer Institute—all of these groups are part of the NIH.
Message from Dr. Fauci
Anthony Fauci, NIAID director, who has been really the nation’s leader in this crisis, reports, “This study will give us a clearer picture of the true magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Stares by telling us how many people in different communities have been infected without knowing it, because they had a very mild, undocumented illness or did not access testing while they were sick.” The nation’s doctor continued, “These crucial data will help us measure the impact of our public health efforts now and guide our COVID-19 response moving forward.”
Investigators will analyze blood samples for two types of antibodies, anti-SARS-CoV-2 S protein IgG and IgM, using an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) developed by researchers at NIAID and NIBIB. In blood samples found to contain antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, researchers may perform additional tests to evaluate the volunteers’ immune responses to the virus. These data may provide insight as to why these cases were less severe than those that lead to hospitalization.
Healthy volunteers over the age of 18 from anywhere in the United States can participate and will be asked to consent to enrollment over the telephone. Individuals with a confirmed history of COVID-19 or current symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are not eligible to participate.
Kaitlyn Sadtler, PhD, Principal Investigator