20:10 PM

Carilion Clinic Seeking Additional Participants in COVID-19 Seroprevalence Study


At the study’s halfway point, just over 4,000 people in Southwest Virginia are enrolled. Many still need to complete blood draw.

Spanish QR code 12.4

Carilion Clinic and the Virginia Department of Health have reached the halfway point of the region’s first-of-its-kind COVID-19 Seroprevalence study. The study will help provide a better understanding of how many people have COVID-19 in Southwest Virginia, ultimately informing public health efforts.

As part of the study, community members have free access to COVID-19 antibody testing. Researchers, in exchange, will use test results to better understand COVID-19's spread in the region. 

Just over 4,000 people have responded to the study’s 10-minute enrollment survey. However, only 43% of the respondents have completed the process by having 5 milliliters of blood drawn at a Carilion hospital or Quest Patient Service Center location. The study is funded by $566,309 in state CARES Act funds and concludes on Dec. 31, 2020. There is no cost to participants.

"We are encouraging more people to participate in the study," said Paul Skolnik, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine." We have a goal of 5,250 participants -- and we are seeking 5,250 blood samples to measure antibodies to the SARS-CO-V-2 virus that causes COVID-19.”

The public may continue to enroll in the study by taking this survey or using the QR code at the top of this release.

Carilion officials urge all participants to complete their blood tests, which are critical to ensuring satisfactory data collection to fully understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in the region.

“We appreciate everyone who has voluntarily completed the survey – but if you haven’t had your blood drawn, please do so,said Dr. Skolnik. “The survey is brief. However, it alone does not provide all the information we need. Blood draws take only minutes to complete, too, and they help us complete the study.”

Additionally, Carilion researchers are seeking more participants in the following cities and counties:

  • Alleghany County
  • Bland County
  • Bedford County
  • Buena Vista
  • Craig County
  • Floyd County
  • Henry County
  • Martinsville
  • Radford
  • Rockbridge County
  • Russell County

They are among the 22 localities in Carilion's service region eligible to participate in the study. Carilion is working with various organizations, including the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, to plan for mobile blood test sites in the more remote areas in which participation is lagging.

Carilion is also encouraging more participants from Black, LatinX and other communities across all the localities in the study to ensure the results are comprehensive.

“Participation is critical among our minority and ethnic groups because COVID-19 has disproportionately affected them throughout the pandemic,” Dr. Skolnik said. “There is personal benefit to finding out if you had the COVID-19 infection. There is no risk to our participants. All the personal information we gather is confidential and protected. The results are shared with our participants in confidence, too.”

The study began by recruiting participants from Carilion electronic medical records. Carilion has collected additional blood samples from pediatric patients who present with their parent or guardian for scheduled appointments at one of our facilities and voluntarily consent to participate. Public participation began shortly following the study’s launch last month.

The study’s results will also assist in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Carilion officials continue preparations to ensure the protection of each city, town and county in its service region.

“The vaccine rollout may be helped by the information about the prevalence of previous COVID-19 infections around Virginia,” said Dr. Skolnik. “But we need complete information from our participants. Their answers to the questions and the results of their blood tests help us determine antibody production and prevalence. They are going to help us make decisions about how we continue to prevent COVID-19 and how we deliver the vaccines.”

“If we know who has antibodies to the virus, we can understand where the vaccines are most needed,” Dr. Skolnik added. “The results of the study will help us target, sequentially, the delivery of vaccines. We will help stop the spread of the virus so we can reopen and get back to our normal routines.”

For questions about the seroprevalence study, email research@carilionclinic.org.