LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Results from the first phase of the University of Louisville’s project to track COVID-19 in Metro Louisville show that precautionary measures worked in preventing the disease’s transmission among health care workers.
Throughout May, Phase 1 of the Co-Immunity Project tested 1,372 health care workers at hospitals in the UofL Health system. Samples were collected by UofL’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute and tested at UofL’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) at the Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases (CPM).
The study found just two participants had an active infection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. An additional 14 workers tested positive for antibodies, suggesting they've been exposed to the virus. Unfortunately, due to low amounts of blood in some samples, antibody levels could not be tested in 128 workers.
The Co-Immunity Project is a collaboration between the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council and the Brown Envirome Institute. The purpose of Phase I of the project is to test health care workers at Baptist Health, Norton Healthcare, and UofL Health systems to identify those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and determine how their body produced a response to such infection. This information will help identify potential donors of high-quality plasma for the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Interested health care workers collected their own blood and plasma samples and delivered them to researchers with the Brown Envirome Institute. The samples were then tested at the RBL. Results from Baptist Health and Norton Healthcare will be provided at a later date, but researchers say the results from workers at UofL Health facilities provide data that can be used to provide information about the pandemic and its effects.
“The type of precautions that we have been taking, particularly our healthcare workers with their equipment and with social distancing, have been working,” said Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, the Brown Envirome Institute Director. “We have seen the results of it and that we have contained the spread of infection to low levels.”
Phase II of the Co-Immunity Project opened earlier in June to the community to sample 2,400 participants who live in different parts of Jefferson County and determine the prevalence of COVID-19 infection and immunity in the general population.
The project also will re-test health care workers across UofL Health in July to see whether the rates of infection and immunity have changed since May.