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10 months later, researchers learn more than expected in COVID-19 Community Research Partnership

Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 8:08 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - WBTV is following up on a clinical trial that started more than ten months ago. The study was meant to track the movements and patterns of COVID-19 spread, but researchers say they are learning much more than they expected.

At first, the COVID-19 Community Research Partnership included Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health, and MedStar Health in Maryland. Now, nine sites from Maryland to New Orleans are participating in the study. The research is being funded by the CDC and the North Carolina General Assembly.

Atrium Health’s Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Lewis McCurdy is one of the co-principal investigators of the study. For the last ten months, researchers have been tracking symptoms and antibody test results of more than 40,000 participants.

Every day, participants fill out a symptom checker via email. About once a month, they take an antibody test to show whether they have developed immunity against the coronavirus. In addition, participants are asked to fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaire helps researchers understand human behaviors that could affect COVID-19 spread.

Since gathering this data, researchers are learning more about the strength and length of immunity after natural infection.

“It looks like people who are les symptomatic, have less of an antibody response. And the antibody response maybe shorter in duration than people with symptomatic infections,” Dr. McCurdy explained.

Since the vaccine is now being administered, researchers are adding vaccine questions to the questionnaire. So far, researchers say the results of the vaccine trials appear to be playing out in real life.

“What we’re seeing in real life is actually mirroring what we saw in the trials. So, you know, that was the data that came out with the trials is 95 percent effective. And we’re actually seeing not necessarily effective, because we haven’t been able to show you know infection yet, but we are showing that antibodies being developed in that 90 to 95% of people after their second dose. And again, some people are showing that after the first dose antibody development,” Dr. McCurdy said.

As more people take the vaccine, researchers expect to learn more about its effectiveness through this community study.

They are still looking for more participants in the study. Researchers say the majority of those who are enrolled are Caucasian. They hope to enroll more people from minority communities.

“Because the pandemic continues to impact the minority populations more than others.

You know, trying to gather information around minorities, their symptoms, you know their vaccine uptake. What happens to their immunity after infection? What happens to their immunity after vaccine compared to other populations is super important,” Dr. McCurdy explained.

For more information on the trial click here: https://atriumhealth.org/about-us/coronavirus/covid-19-community-research-partnership

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