BLAINE COUNTY — St. Luke's, the Blaine County Innovation and Testing Task Force, epidemiologists from Albany College in New York, and researchers from La Jolla Institute For Immunology in California are all working to conduct a COVID research project in the Blaine County Area.
The name of the study is the Blaine COVID STATS (Study To Test and Track SARS-CoV-2). Dr. Terry O'Connor of St. Luke's Wood River Valley and Dr. Thomas Archie of InnerHealth MD are the primary investigators for the study.
They need 600 people to be monitored over a six-month period so that they can learn more about how the immune system reacts to fighting off COVID-19.
“What mechanisms in your body and your immune system really do respond to successfully prevent you from getting severe illness and also potentially prevent you from spreading the illness to other people,” O'Connor said.
Doctors are also looking to take advantage of when other factors come into play during this process such as when someone gets COVID or gets the vaccination. They can again analyze how the immune system reacts once COVID has entered the body. For vaccinations, they are also intrigued to see the durability and length of time it may effective for.
For people looking to get involved in the study, there are a few requirements that need to be met.
“We’re looking to enroll adults so age 18 or older who have ideally not had COVID-19 as an infection yet. So have not had COVID-19 as an infection and have not had a vaccine yet and folks who have frequent contact with the public,” Archie said.
People who partake in the project will have their own responsibilities throughout this study. They will need to provide blood samples, complete weekly online questionnaires, and self-collect and mail-in weekly nasal swabs.
Despite the extra leg work, there will be financial compensation for participants.
Healthcare workers are eager to get this study started since they see it having a significant benefit.
"By taking part in the study, participants can help Blaine County more quickly recognize a new wave of COVID-19 infections, help to reduce community spread, and contribute to research about the immune response to coronavirus infection," St. Luke's said in a statement.
Dr. O'Connor added, "We can amplify the amount of testing happening on a weekly basis in our community, and now that we are on the other end of our third curve, we may actually prevent further outbreaks of this disease and keep all of COVID-19 at bay until everybody gets vaccinated.”
If you're looking to register or learn more information about the study you can click here