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Health dept., IUPUI partner on COVID-19 study

(photo courtesy of IUPUI)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana State Department of Health is partnering with the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI to study the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. The university says the study will include random sample testing for the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as viral infections and antibodies among Hoosiers.

IUPUI says at least 20,000 Hoosiers will be tested for the study with the testing taking place in four phases over the next year. The participants will be invited to be testing “to ensure that the sampling is representative of the population.”

The study is being led by Dr. Nir Menachemi, the Fairbanks Chair of Public Health. He says the new testing initiative will differ from others.

“To date, almost all of the testing that has occurred has come from patients with serious symptoms or other high-risk individuals, including our front line, healthcare workers and essential employees,” said Menachemi. “Existing tests were purposefully focused on clinical or congregate settings to support clinical decisions affecting individual patients. Because these tests focused on sick and high-risk individuals, we lack an understanding of how many people in our state have been infected, especially if they were not formally tested or had no symptoms.”

Menachemi says the study will provide an understanding of the true prevalence of COVID-19.

“By being one of the first states, we will get a head start in understanding the epidemic’s true trajectory, identify and address disparities, and be able to make wiser decisions on how to deploy our limited resources,” said Menachemi.

The first round of testing will begin this weekend with between 5,000 and 7,000 participants being tested. The university says the participants will be selected randomly from the state’s 10 emergency preparedness districts.

“Having the ability to not only test for the presence of this virus, but also to learn more about people who have been exposed in the past and might have antibodies that indicate past infection, will help us fine-tune our work to keep Hoosiers safe from this pandemic,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said in a news release. “We are grateful that this partnership will help make that happen.”

Additional phases of testing will take place in late May, October and in April 2021.

You can learn more about the study by clicking here.