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Upstate launches study to look at COVID-19 transmission among families

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)

Upstate Medical University in Syracuse is launching a study to figure out how COVID-19 is transmitted within families.

There are a lot of questions about the coronavirus and COVID-19 that haven’t been answered that revolve around how the virus is transmitted and what kind of immunity a positive test provides. 

"We think in the short term after someone is infected that they most likely are protected for at least a short period of time," said the study's principal investigator Dr. Katie Anderson. "But if we head into next year, is this going to behave like seasonal influenza, where you absolutely could get it again?  Or is it like measles, and you are protected for the rest of your life? For me that is a critical question we need to understand as soon as possible because it relates to vaccines."

Anderson hopes to learn the answers to those questions over the three-month study of up to 600 households that include someone who was either tested for or was treated for COVID-19 at Upstate.

"We want to understand who is at highest risk for getting infected," Anderson said. "And that can be specific people in households or specific communities. And we also want to understand who is at highest risk of getting really sick when they get COVID. There’s been lots of discussions about why certain communities are hit harder by COVID and we want to understand why that is."

Participants must agree to monthly saliva and blood tests and complete questionnaires about symptoms and preventive behaviors like wearing masks. Anderson hopes the study can continue after the initial three months to see if there are seasonal differences in how the virus is transmitted.