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UofL research project on Louisville’s COVID spread fights opinions with data

A UofL research study began in May with a goal to determine the true presence of COVID-19 in...
A UofL research study began in May with a goal to determine the true presence of COVID-19 in Jefferson County.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2021 at 11:18 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Despite the continuing debate over COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, researchers from the University of Louisville are using data-based evidence to prove the vaccine’s effectiveness.

The Co-Immunity Project has tested and studied the COVID-19 antibodies of almost 13,000 people in Jefferson County to gain a better idea of how the virus has spread in Louisville in that time. The testing is conducted through a finger prick and taken to a lab to decipher the type and number of antibodies in a person’s blood.

“We are the prevention team,” Dr. Rachel Keith said. “We are trying to keep people from getting COVID.”

Keith started the Co-Immunity Project in May of 2020 to gather data on the people who contracted the virus early in the pandemic and how long they remained naturally immune afterward.

Lately, the focus has shifted to the antibodies created by the COVID-19 vaccines and how long they remain in the blood.

“This information is vital,” Keith said. “We don’t have ten years of banked research that we can pull from. This is how we make our plans for the future and understand what’s happening now.”

So far, Keith said the research appears to show natural antibodies taper off in roughly three months. Meanwhile, vaccinated antibodies appear to hold stronger. Keith believes the next round of testing will be important, since those who were among the first to receive the vaccines have crossed the six-month threshold.

“Without information, we can’t really figure out that game plan, right,” Keith said. “So, you don’t know the quarterback you’re playing with or who the pitcher’s going to be, how do you come up with a game plan to figure it?”

Dr. Hongxiang Li is one of the participants.

Li is a professor at UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering and spends much of his summer months conducting research. The scientist told WAVE 3 News that when the Co-Immunity Project contacted him, he immediately signed up because he knew that data was crucial to science.

“I looked at the letter from UofL, and I opened the letter and I saw it’s a project where they’re trying to test some antibodies, and I know this is important,” Li said. “We need the data to know the truth.”

The Co-Immunity Project has been so successful it has drawn the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In April, UofL received $8.6 million from the CDC to back wastewater testing to determine whether coronavirus infection exists in different neighborhoods around Jefferson County.

The next round of Co-Immunity Project antibody testing runs from Aug. 25-31. To sign up, click here or call 1+(833) 313-0502.

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