The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is planning a nationwide study of nearly 325,000 people to track how the new coronavirus is spread across the country over the next year and beyond. beyond that, a spokesperson and CDC researchers told Reuters.
The CDC study, to be launched in June or July, will test blood donor samples in 25 metropolitan areas for the presence of antibodies created when the immune system fights the coronavirus, said Dr. Michael Busch, director from the non-profit Vitalant Research Institute.
Dr. Busch is leading a preliminary study – funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – which tests the first 36,000 samples.
CDC-funded portion to be officially announced this week will expand reach and schedule, taking samples over 18 months to see how antibodies evolve over time, said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund .
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will initially test anti-coronavirus antibodies in cities like San Francisco, New York, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles and Minneapolis
The CDC will test up to 325,000 Americans for coronavirus antibodies in 25 cities, starting this summer. Studies on “precursors” have already started in cities like New York (photo), Los Angeles and Minneapolis (file)
Vitalant, a non-profit organization that operates blood donation centers and tests samples, will also lead the larger effort.
The researchers aim to publish the results on an ongoing basis, said Nordlund.
Antibody studies, also known as seroprevalence research, are considered essential to understanding where an epidemic spreads and can help guide decisions about what restrictions are needed to contain it.
The CDC study should also help scientists better understand whether the immune response to COVID decreases over time.
The new coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million people in the United States and killed more than 90,000, according to a Reuters count.
The CDC study will test the blood of 1,000 donors in each of the 25 metropolitan areas each month for 12 months.
The researchers will then analyze the blood of 25,000 other donors after 18 months.
The samples will come from “regular, selfless people” who come to donate blood, said Busch.
STUDY COMES AFTER LOCAL OFFICIALS COMPLAIN THAT THEY FEEL “EXPOSED” FOR LACK OF NATIONAL PLAN
Some public health officials have complained that the CDC has lagged behind in the search and guidance of local governments trying to cope with the pandemic.
“We feel exposed locally, in terms of not seeing this kind of plan organized on the part of the CDC,” said Dr. Matt Willis, public health officer for Marin County, California, in a interview last week.
The news of the study reassured Willis.
“Partial answers and preliminary results are better than nothing when you have a decision to make” that could affect lives, he said, like when to reopen parks and businesses.
The CDC Nordlund said the study “shows how federal government leaders work with partners in academia and the donation and blood test industries” to monitor COVID-19.
She added that the results from blood donors can be used by the CDC to form estimates of the general population using statistical methods.
“It was done with West Nile virus, Zika and other emerging infectious diseases,” she said.
The six metropolitan areas studied in the precursor study are New York, Seattle, San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles, Boston and Minneapolis, said Dr. Graham Simmons, another Vitalant researcher involved in the project. “In all likelihood,” the next phase will add Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver and others, said Simmons.
“We have selected sites to give a wide geographic distribution across the country,” said Simmons, including sites with high infection rates or places where rates may increase.
Researchers at John Hopkins University, in a 2019 article, discovered that blood donors, who are disproportionately healthy, are not always ideal populations for research.
The CDC study may not “generate generalizable results for the public,” said Thomas McDade, researcher at Northwestern University, in an interview.
However, it could “significantly improve our understanding of infections (COVID-19),” said Dr. Susan Philip, assistant medical officer of health in the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
“It will be a large sample, geographically diverse … and quick to set up,” added Philip.
Some local governments have done their own research on HIV prevalence.
New York in April found antibodies in more than 20% of the approximately 3,000 people tested, suggesting that the number of residents exposed to the virus in the hardest-hit state is much higher than the 355,000 tested positive. .
Last week, an antibody study by the city of Boston and the Massachusetts General Hospital found that 10% of the population had COVID-19 antibodies.
The Spanish government has conducted a study showing exposure in five percent of people – suggesting 10 times the number of confirmed positive cases.