University of Arizona to study viral immunity of COVID-19 in essential workers

University of Arizona to study viral immunity of COVID-19 in essential workers
File Photo: lab testing for the coronavirus (Source: University of Hawaii)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The University of Arizona health science leaders plan to study the viral immunity of COVID-19 among Arizona essential workers.

The year-long study is funded by a $7.7 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will be led by Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the College of Medicine.

The study— AZ HEROES— has two goals. Researchers plan to evaluate re-infection among the state’s frontline workers and to establish patterns of COVID-19 immunity over time in previously infected and newly infected individuals who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

This research will provide vital information about what percentage of the population gains immunity after exposure to COVID-19, and how long that immunity lasts. This data will help the whole world overcome the pandemic more quickly.

Studies show that up to 40% of individuals with an active infection do not feel sick and do not show systems. The AZ HEROES study enables participants to monitor their health with free weekly tests for active infection, helping to keep their workplace and family safe.

Participants in the study will be provided weekly, self-administered COVID-19 tests for up to nine months. The free weekly testing will allow participants to monitor their health and assess their occupational exposure to COVID-19.

The research team is currently enrolling 4,000 health-care workers, first responders, and frontline essential workers as participants across Arizona within four months for this study.

Dr. Jeff Burgess, associate dean for research and a professor at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, is serving as principal investigator for the study.

“The research questions we intend to answer will help us understand how long immunity to COVID-19 persists, and if secondary exposures to the virus are handled differently by the body than the initial exposure,” Burgess said.

For more information about how to participate in the study, visit: https://azheroes.arizona.edu

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