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Researchers from IU to lead nationwide COVID-19 infection, immunity study

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Posted at 12:02 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 00:02:35-05

BLOOMINGTON — Researchers from Indiana University are set to lead a nationwide study on COVID-19 infection and reinfection as well as the potential for long-term immunity to the coronavirus.

The researchers are from the university's School of Public Health-Bloomington and the Department of Biology.

The study is backed by a philanthropic investment of $12.5 million from Jack Dorsey's #StartSmall Initiative and the Chase and Stephanie Coleman Foundation. The study will run through 2021 and will include 2,100 participants from multiple U.S. locations, likely including Chicago, New York, Bloomington and Indianapolis.

"Indiana University is extremely grateful for the generous financial support for — and opportunity to lead — this landmark public health study," IU President Michael McRobbie said. "Through this study, leading public health researchers from IU and around the country will seek to capture critical information about the evolution of COVID-19 and answer the key question of how long the immune system can protect individuals from the virus after they have been infected. As such, this study promises to have important implications for the effectiveness and longevity of a vaccine for the virus."

IU School of Public Health-Bloomington Dean David B. Allison and Kevin C. Maki, adjunct professor in the school's Department of Applied Health Science, will serve as co-principal investigators of the Aegis Study. Additional IU researchers will include School of Public Health faculty members Jon Macy, Molly Rosenberg, Christina Ludema and Stephanie Dickinson, and John Patton from the Department of Biology.

"The Aegis Study includes a dream team of exceptional investigators, and I am confident that, together, we'll be able to unlock some of the mysteries around COVID-19 immunity," Allison said. "Primarily, we want to determine whether prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, the development of antibodies and subsequent recovery from COVID-19 can prevent, or perhaps, mitigate the reemergence of COVID-19. And, if reinfection does occur, is it more or less severe than the initial infection?"

Allison said answering these questions could inform vaccine development and allocation, organizational and governmental policies for safe reopening and long-term operation, and even individual choices about what constitutes safe behaviors.

The study is set to begin before the end of the calendar year and seeks to enroll adults with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection who live in multiple U.S. locations where exposure to infection risk appears elevated. The study will include follow-up of at least one year. Preliminary results are expected in 2021.