We still cannot definitively determine whether someone who has had COVID-19 has developed immunity to the SARS CoV-2 virus. The benefits of being able to identify individuals with immunity include the ability to allow protected healthcare personnel to work in environments where they are likely to be exposed to the virus, such as intensive care units with COVID-19 patients. Several types of serological assays – tests for certain markers in the blood – are currently being developed to identify individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. But the accuracy of these assays is below 90%, and it is still not clear which types of assay can truly predict functional protection against the disease.
This project will involve a study of healthcare personnel, who volunteer to participate, to identify the actual immunity of those workers and compare it with the projections of the many studies on immunity that are currently underway. The project team will collect blood samples from healthcare personnel who have tested positive for SARS CoV-2 and follow their health status for 6 months. Their blood will be tested for various antibody markers that are currently being used by different research teams to develop assays for COVID-19 immunity. By comparing blood content with the actual health of the individuals involved, it will be possible to determine which types of assays measure truly protective immunity.
Identifying true markers of protective immunity will allow for the identification of individuals protected from re-infection. The primary beneficiaries would be healthcare personnel, who would know whether they are safe in environments with a high risk of exposure, and society will benefit from maintenance of a functioning healthcare workforce. Identifying the assays that truly determine immunity will also make it possible to allow large portions of the population to return to economic activity. In addition, the validated assays can be used in future vaccine trials, to determine the effectiveness of experimental vaccines.
EIT Health Partners
- Technische Universität München (TUM)
- Fundación privada Instituto de Salud Global Barcelona (ISGLOBAL)
- University of Barcelona