CT To Roll-Out Blood Sampling Program To Track Coronavirus Spread

CONNECTICUT — Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday that the state is partnering in a first-of-its-kind, statewide project to quantify the spread of COVID-19 within the state by conducting a seroprevalence study of 1,400 randomized, representative Connecticut residents.

The project will identify, through blood samples, people who have developed antibodies to COVID-19, a sign of prior infection. Led by Yale University in collaboration with Gallup, Quest Diagnostics, and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, and with the support of the state Department of Public Health, the project will provide the state with additional data in order to better inform its response and enhance efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Connecticut has an urgent need to understand the extent of prior infection with COVID-19 in order to guide our efforts to protect the state’s residents, mitigate the harms of the virus, and implement efficient programs in the areas of greatest need,” Lamont said. “Accordingly, the state will be supporting this COVID-19 surveillance project to better understand the spread of COVID-19 within different communities across Connecticut, particularly within the most vulnerable populations. This effort aligns with our commitment to employ the best science and obtain the highest quality information to guide our policies. We are fortunate to be working with such expert groups in the service of supporting Connecticut.”

Gallup, a leading analytics and advisory company, will assist with the study design and analysis, participant sampling, and interviewing of adults living in Connecticut. Quest Diagnostics, a leading provider of diagnostic information services, will conduct the blood sample collection in the company’s network of more than 100 patient service centers throughout the state, provide logistics support, and conduct antibody testing. The Jackson Laboratory, a global nonprofit biomedical research institution that is already providing large-scale COVID-19 testing for the state, will help validate the testing.

The antibody test information will identify people who have previously been infected over the entire course of the pandemic. Importantly, it is not yet known if having antibodies provides immunity. The test does not convey information about who is actively infected.

“The ongoing response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic must first and foremost be data-driven,” said acting Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford, MD. “This innovative new approach puts some of the best scientific minds in the world at work with data that may be able to tell us how deeply this virus has impacted our communities, and who may be more susceptible to infection. These are all critical points of information we will need to direct public health policy and strategy going forward in Connecticut.”

“The project will provide critically needed information to understand where the state should focus COVID-19 prevention as it rolls out large scale testing, as well as regions where we need to closely monitor the risk of resurgence in the future,” said Dr. Albert Icksang Ko, professor of epidemiology and medicine and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health.

Specifically, the study will examine the following questions:

  • How much of the Connecticut population has been infected with the virus causing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)?

  • How many Connecticut residents experienced mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 illness?

  • ·Are there different characteristics, or risk factors, that are associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, such as age, location, or underlying health conditions?

“This is truly designed as a team effort so we can learn together where we stand and inform what we should do next,” said Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, who will serve as project leader. Krumholz is the Harold H. Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine at Yale and director of the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. “We will all owe a debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who agree to be part of this effort and help us all understand how far the virus has spread.”

The project is being funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was approved by Congress in March. It is expected to launch in early June with results to be shared with the public toward the end of the month.

This article originally appeared on the Across Connecticut Patch

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