Pediatric coronavirus study launched in Virginia

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 11:10 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Governor Ralph Northam has announced the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will conduct a pediatric coronavirus disease serology study in Northern Virginia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Serology tests look for antibodies in blood. If antibodies are found, that means there has been a previous infection. Antibodies are proteins that can fight off infections.”

Interim results from Virginia’s ongoing adult serology study show about 2.4 percent of adults statewide have antibodies to COVID-19. The new pediatric study, completed in collaboration with Inova Health System, will measure the proportion of children and teens with antibodies to COVID-19, according to the governor.

“The Commonwealth’s low exposure rate among adults is a testament to Virginians’ sacrifice and dedication in battling this virus,” said Governor Northam. “But as a pediatrician, I know children are often impacted by disease in a different way than adults. These studies provide key insight into how COVID-19 spreads among different ages and demographics groups. With this information, we are one step closer to beating this virus.”

Northern Virginia was picked for the project because of the number of confirmed COVID-19 pediatric cases reported in the region. Northam says Northern Virginia’s population is also diverse in terms of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and race, “which provides an important comparison to the rest of the Commonwealth.”

Inova Children’s Hospital will recruit up to 1,000 participants up to 19 years old who live in Northern Virginia and seek care at participating clinical sites. Participants’ blood samples will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

VDH will use the information collected from this project to estimate the total number of children who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus in Northern Virginia and statewide, including those who may have had mild or asymptomatic infections. VDH will also analyze children’s risk factors for COVID-19 infection, including age, underlying health conditions, sociodemographic characteristics, history of COVID-19 infection within households and childcare exposures. Preliminary results are expected by mid-September.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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