RAPID: Generating knowledge with next phase serological testing for SARS-CoV-2

Project: Research project

Project Details


COVID-19 is a deadly clinical disease with high rates of community spread, where it is having devastating social and economic impacts. Strategic testing in community-based settings is critical for understanding the true level of infection, tracking the virus, and for mitigating transmission. Yet current testing is necessarily limited to the most serious cases in hospital settings. The aim of this project is to develop an infrastructure for serological testing that addresses current gaps in the pandemic response, and that builds a foundation for research into the causes and consequences of viral transmission in the community. The first aim is to roll out a web-based, “no-contact” platform for recruiting, consenting, and surveying research participants. This platform will be used to enroll 3,000 participants from neighborhoods across Chicago in a study that investigates in the individual, household, and community level factors that coronavirus exposure. Participants will receive a kit for the self-collection of a finger stick dried blood spot (DBS) sample in the home. Samples will be returned in the mail and analyzed in the lab for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies against the spike protein, using a previously validated protocol. The second aim is to develop and validate a surrogate virus neutralization (sVNT) protocol for use with DBS in an immunoassay format. This method addresses an important limitation of current antibody tests which detect the presence of binding antibodies, but cannot quantify the presence of the neutralizing antibodies that actually prevent the virus from entering host tissues upon re-infection. Together, these aims will make significant contributions to understanding why some individuals, and some demographic groups, are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Effective start/end date6/15/205/31/22


  • National Science Foundation (BCS-2035114)


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