The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will collect blood samples from nearly 7,500 Arkansas adults and children through October to help determine the magnitude of COVID-19 in Arkansas.
The effort is supported by $3.3 million in federal coronavirus aid that was then allocated by the Arkansas Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Steering Committee created by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
“It will be critical for policymakers to estimate how many Arkansans have been previously infected as they consider reopening schools, allowing mass gatherings, and keeping workplaces safe,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA.
Seroprevalence is the proportion of people in a population whose blood serum tests positive for a particular disease. There are two study components: a statewide epidemiology component and a laboratory component.
The epidemiology component is being led by College of Public Health Dean Mark Williams, Ph.D., and Benjamin Amick III, Ph.D., associate dean for research. Key team members are epidemiologists Wendy Nembhard, Ph.D., Victor Cardenas, M.D., Ph.D., and Lori Fischbach, Ph.D., and biostatistician James Selig, Ph.D.
“Providing accurate estimates is vitally important in helping policymakers plan for implementing protective and treatment measures in Arkansas,” Williams said. “Without this information, public health officials are just guessing, and there is a chance they will guess wrong.”
Individuals in Arkansas will be randomly selected to participate through random digit dialing. Researchers will travel to participants houses, or they can visit a designated UAMS or community location, ask them a series of questions, and draw their blood.
The laboratory component is being led by Josh Kennedy, M.D., Karl Boehme, Ph.D., and Craig Forrest, Ph.D., all associate professors in the College of Medicine.
Once blood samples are taken, they will be analyzed by researchers working the lab component to see if they have antibodies that show the individual had COVID-19 sometime in the past.
Significant UAMS guidance and resources have also come from Shuk-Mei Ho, Ph.D., vice chancellor for Research and Innovation, Stephanie Gardner, Ed.D., Pharm.D., provost, chief academic officer and chief strategy officer, and Laura James, M.D., director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute.
Other collaborators from the College of Medicine include Erika Olgaard, M.D., assistant professor, Jeff Moran, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Jessica Snowden, M.D., associate professor.
To learn more about the larger study: https://bit.ly/3lAldQ9.