Brigham and Women's, Broad Institute Team Up for COVID Study of Boston Area

Results could help clinicians learn more about whether prior infection provides any protection against subsequent re-infection

Medical workers take down personal information from those driving in to take a COVID-19 test at a Coronavirus testing location in the Cambridge Health Alliance Testing Tent in Cambridge, MA on June 18, 2020. Massachusetts has launched more than 50 pop-up coronavirus test sites to provide free testing for people who participated in large gatherings or protests.
Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard are teaming up for a six-month study of 10,000 people to help them better understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in the area and to help identify potential surges during the fall and winter, they said in a joint statement Tuesday.

The study, called TestBoston, will provide monthly at-home kits for both the virus and antibodies against it.

Participants, selected from Brigham and Women's patients and reflecting the demographics of greater Boston, will also complete routine symptom surveys and will be able to seek additional testing should they develop symptoms.

Study results may reveal critical clues and warning signs about how COVID-19 cases are changing in the area, while helping investigators establish a model for at-home sample collection, the statement said.

The study will also help clinicians learn more about whether prior infection provides any protection against subsequent re-infection. 

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"With ongoing limits on testing availability, we still face serious challenges to our understanding of how many people in Massachusetts have been infected and to our ability to detect new outbreaks, which is made all the more challenging because we know that asymptomatic people can transmit this virus to others," Dr. Ann Woolley, an infections disease physician at the hospital, said in a statement.

Study findings will be shared with key stakeholders, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, to enable public health responses to cases of new infection.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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