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Aspirus St. Luke's 1 of 6 Nationally Participating in CDC COVID-19 Study

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Dr. Harmony Tyner, St. Luke’s Infectious Disease SpecialistSt. Luke’s is one of six organizations nationally participating in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study. The study could have major implications for the treatment of the virus.

St. Luke’s Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Harmony Tyner is leading St. Luke’s involvement with the RECOVER study. RECOVER stands for Research on the Epidemiology of COVID-19 in Emergency Response and Healthcare Personnel. In March, with input from her colleagues, she sketched out an idea for a study on the epidemiology of COVID-19. She submitted her idea to the CDC for grant funding. Since the proposal was similar to another new study, she and St. Luke’s were asked to participate.

Along with St. Luke’s,Kaiser Permanente, the University of Arizona, University of Miami, University of Utah, and Baylor, Scott & White are also involved. St. Luke’s is partnering with the Whiteside Institute for Clinical Research, which is a joint effort between St. Luke’s and the University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth campus, to conduct the study in Duluth. Researchers will be reviewing what percent of patients with COVID-19 are symptomatic, how long the virus sheds, if antibodies to COVID-19 protect people from being re-infected, how long it takes to develop antibodies to COVID-19, and how long immunity lasts.

“This project is groundbreaking and it’s exciting to be a part of,” Dr. Tyner said. “It will help us answer many of the questions that everyone is trying to answer about the epidemiology of COVID-19. It will also allow us to learn more about what infection with COVID-19 looks like in real time. That knowledge, in turn, enables us to limit the impact of this virus locally and globally.”

St. Luke’s will enroll 500 healthcare workers to participate in the study. Efforts will be made to fill demographic criteria based on age, gender and occupation, to ensure that individuals from all demographics are represented. Potential participants will be asked to fill out a questionnaire to see if they qualify. Those who participate will be asked to complete weekly symptom assessments via text messages, swab their own noses for COVID-19 every week and have blood drawn periodically to test for COVID-19 antibodies. Research will conclude by May 2021.