Raleigh, N.C. – An antibody study of a representative sample of the population is actively underway in North Carolina, led by pioneering research from experts at Wake Forest University.
In support of the groundbreaking public health research, the legislature is providing $100,000 to Wake Forest University to purchase and mail at-home antibody kits to a representative sample of North Carolinians.
The Wake Forest University study is led by Dr. John Sanders and Dr. David Herrington in collaboration with Dr. Michael Runyon and Dr. Michael Gibbs at Atrium Health. They have worked closely with Oracle, Scanwell Health, Javara, and other health systems across the country to develop this surveillance system.
Dr. John Ioannidis, a Stanford epidemiologist, is also a collaborator on the study. The funding comes from the legislature’s existing discretionary account that is used to pay for legislative operations and business.
“Representative population sampling data will provide state leaders more critical information we need to move forward reopening our economy and supporting a strong recovery in North Carolina,” Speaker Moore said Monday.
“As we prepare an immediate legislative response package to help North Carolinians affected by this emergency, we will also pursue a comprehensive scientific understanding of this pandemic and its potential long-term impacts on our state.”
Dr. Sanders said, “Wake Forest University and Atrium Health are leading the way in pioneering a representative sample antibody study. Coupled with state-of-art syndromic surveillance and in collaboration with leading healthcare providers and companies, our work will help fill a data gap that has existed since the start of the pandemic.”“I’m grateful to the North Carolina legislature for providing us with up-front funding so we can begin this critical project.”
Researchers have identified early study participants through WakeHealth’s patient platform. The sample will be statistically representative of the larger population.
Participants in the study will use an at-home antibody test kit to prick their finger, and the test will use a drop of blood to identify whether it contains COVID-19 antibodies. If antibodies are present, it would signal with a high probability that the person has already had the virus.
Researchers will provide participants with at-home antibody test kits every month for one year to track the virus and population immunity over time.
The study will couple antibody testing with near-real-time syndromic surveillance through a platform developed by Oracle.
The syndromic surveillance will provide public health authorities with data on patients presenting with symptoms at participating health care facilities. It will help identify emerging hot-spots almost instantly.