News Release

Emory launches national study to estimate COVID-19 infection and antibody rate in the US

Grant and Award Announcement

Emory Health Sciences

ATLANTA - Researchers from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health were awarded a $6.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to launch COVIDVu, a national study that will use home tests to develop estimates of the current number of COVID-19 infections and persons with antibody response nationally and across seven heavily impacted states.

COVID-19 testing to-date has been limited and primarily focused on those who are currently ill. COVIDVu will provide the first unbiased estimate of COVID-19 cases on a national level by randomly selecting households across the United States to participate in testing. This will allow for testing of people who may be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. It will offer an improved understanding of the spectrum of COVID-19 infection, including how it impacts different demographic, geographic and occupational groups. The study will also assess symptoms, underlying conditions, population concentration, region, gender, age, race and ethnicity.

"As the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVIDVu study will help us understand the extent of the epidemic across the U.S.," said Aaron J. Siegler, PhD, associate professor at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and COVIDVu co-primary investigator. "It is our hope that this work will guide public health efforts going forward while informing long-term policy and public health activities."

A pilot program for the study is underway, with the full study expected to begin before the end of June. COVIDVu will use home test kits to reach nearly 10,000 individuals. This will include a large national sample, as well as oversamples in seven populous states that represent different geographic regions of the U.S. and include some states that were heavily impacted by COVID-19 early on (California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington).

"COVIDVu is the first study to use at-home tests for COVID-19 on a wide scale, in a measurable way," said Patrick Sullivan, DVM, PhD, professor at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and COVIDVu co-primary investigator. "The results will be invaluable in providing a greater understanding of key epidemiological parameters and will inform data-driven decisions for control of the ongoing epidemic."

Study participants will receive a package in the mail and are encouraged to visit the study participant website for additional information on how to complete the tests. Within a few weeks of completion, study participants will also receive their test results, telling them whether they have active COVID-19 infection or the antibodies that indicate that they previously had COVID-19. Due to the need to collect a random sample, this study is by invitation only.

Study results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and available in real-time on starting in late July.


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