NEW YORK – Michigan-based healthcare system Beaumont Health's Research Institute announced on Monday the launch of a study using serology coronavirus testing to assess the spread of COVID-19.
The study, which will be open to all 38,000 employees of Beaumont Health on a voluntary basis, will aim to determine the susceptibility of healthcare workers to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19; the relationship between levels of antibodies to the coronavirus to symptoms and severity of the disease; whether antibody response increases or decreases over time and how long it lasts; and whether the antibodies protect individuals from future infection.
Longer term, the study also aims to assess how serology testing could supplement molecular testing for detection of active infection; identify individuals with high antibody levels as potential donors for plasma transfusions to treat COVID-19 patients; prioritize people for future vaccinations; and establish protocols and gain a better understanding of COVID immunity in order to allow people to return to work.
After initially focusing on Beaumont patients and staff, the testing capability will be extended to other area hospital systems as needed, it said.
Beaumont will use equipment from PerkinElmer's Euroimmun business for the study – the EuroLabWorkstations and the EuroImmun Anti-SARS-CoV-2 ELISA test kits, which recently received the CE mark.
Matthew Sims, Beaumont's director of infectious disease research, is the principal investigator on the study. "This study will help prove that antibodies protect those who have them," he said in a statement. "It is our hope that this study provides a template for others to conduct similar research that will collectively clarify many unknowns of COVID-19."
The announcement follows one by the US National Institutes of Health to test 10,000 individuals who have not received confirmation that they were infected with SARS-CoV-2. Using serology tests, that study aims to determine how widespread COVID-19 is in the US.