For Éric Michaud, understanding his COVID-19 diagnosis was a driving force for signing up to Stop the Spread Ottawa, a University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital initiative aimed at accelerating vaccine development against the novel coronavirus that has transformed our way of life.
“I want to help protect society,” explains Éric, who returned from a California holiday in March to be confirmed as the second positive COVID-19 case in Ottawa. “Being I was one of the first official cases, I’d like to know if my results explain something.”
The 10-month long study is being led by Dr. Marc-André Langlois, a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at uOttawa, and Dr. Curtis Cooper, Associate Professor at uOttawa and Infectious Diseases Clinician Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital.
Their aim is to collect blood and saliva samples from 500 COVID-positive diagnosed volunteers plus 500 other volunteers who are in contact with a large portion of the population, from healthcare workers to schoolteachers, grocery store workers and bus drivers.
The goal? To study immunity for those who have had COVID-19. This is done by examining the patient’s antibodies and symptoms, or lack thereof, to help establish early detection of infection and see how well they can neutralize the virus.
“From those who have been infected, we want to see how long the natural immunity to the virus lasts. After 10 months are you still immune? Those questions are very important for vaccine development,” says Dr. Langlois, the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Virology and Intrinsic Immunity, whose study also includes psychological and socioeconomic impact assessment.
“There is a sustained level of anxiety among teachers and students as cases rise. Speaking to my colleagues, we all agree we’re in this together so we should participate to understand how it is transmitted – if it is – in the schools,” says Lindsay Laviolette, a high school teacher whose desire to contribute led her to sign up. “It’s important for me to know the patterns of transmission in the school, and if I have already contracted it or if I am a carrier. I want to understand how this data translates into the school.”
The project aims to establish an infrastructure at uOttawa to enable large-scale COVID-19 viral, immunological, and epidemiological studies, as well as other infectious diseases that could threaten population health in the future.
For more information: Stop the Spread Ottawa
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