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CT launches statewide project to track COVID-19 infection data

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An isolation area at a hospital (Nexstar)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont announced on Tuesday that the state is partaking in a project to track the spread of COVID-19.

In a news release, leaders said it is a “statewide project to quantify the spread of COVID-19 within the state by conducting a seroprevalence study of 1,400 randomized, representative Connecticut residents.”

Through blood samples, researchers will be able to determine the people who have developed antibodies — a sign of a prior COVID infection.

It is unknown if having antibodies provides immunity to the virus. Also, the test does not convey information about who is actively infected.

“The project will provide critically needed information to understand where the state should focus COVID-19 prevention as it rolls out large scale testing, as well as regions where we need to closely monitor the risk of resurgence in the future,” said Dr. Albert Icksang Ko, professor of Epidemiology and Medicine and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health.

The study will examine the following questions:

  • How much of the Connecticut population has been infected with the virus causing COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)?
  • How many Connecticut residents experienced mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 illness?
  • Are there different characteristics, or risk factors, that are associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, such as age, location, or underlying health conditions?

Yale University will lead it in partnership with Gallup, Quest Diagnostics and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. Officials said the Connecticut Department of Public Health “will provide the state with additional data in order to better inform its response and enhance efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

“Connecticut has an urgent need to understand the extent of prior infection with COVID-19 in order to guide our efforts to protect the state’s residents, mitigate the harms of the virus, and implement efficient programs in the areas of greatest need,” said Governor Lamont. “Accordingly, the state will be supporting this COVID-19 surveillance project to better understand the spread of COVID-19 within different communities across Connecticut, particularly within the most vulnerable populations. This effort aligns with our commitment to employ the best science and obtain the highest quality information to guide our policies. We are fortunate to be working with such expert groups in the service of supporting Connecticut.”

“This is truly designed as a team effort so we can learn together where we stand and inform what we should do next,” said Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, who will serve as project leader. Dr. Krumholz is the Harold H. Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine at Yale and Director of the Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation. “We will all owe a debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who agree to be part of this effort and help us all understand how far the virus has spread.”

The project is being funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. It’s expected to launch in early June. Results will be made public at the end of the month.

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