Dr. Emily Barrett Discusses the COVID Health Care Worker Study
Health Care Worker COVID-19 Study
The Rutgers Corona Cohort Study
For the Rutgers Corona Cohort Study (RCC), 98% of the original group of participants completed the visit 8 weeks after the study began – a staggeringly impressive statistic and a testament to everyone’s commitment to this community effort.
Very fortunately, the rates of detectable SARS-CoV-2 infection in our participants have gone down considerably, from 5% in tests done at study entry and 2 weeks later, to 2% at the 4-week visit, to under 1% at the 8 week visit. These changes parallel the declines in the numbers of patients with COVID-19 who have been admitted to the participating hospitals (Figure 1) as well as the declines seen in New Jersey more broadly. Over this same time, we have seen antibodies to SARS-COV-2 rise from 1% at baseline, to 5% after 2 weeks, to about 8% after 4 and 8 weeks. Of note, the rates of both detectable virus and antibodies have differed quite a bit between the participating hospitals and between healthcare workers and others (Figure 2).
The research team is still working to understand whether everyone who had an infection produced antibodies, how people’s symptoms corresponded to the levels of antibodies, what types of antibodies people made, and how the levels of those antibodies have changed over time. We look forward to sharing what we learn on this website.
(Article and graphs by Daniel B. Horton, MD, MSCE, RWJ Medical School. Originally published in the Rutgers Corona Cohort Study Newsletter 7/17/20 and updated for the NJ ACTS website 9/1/20.)
Rutgers Vaccine Clinics Open to the Public
Rutgers University is offering free COVID-19 vaccines to eligible individuals at clinics in Camden, Newark, and Piscataway. No insurance card is required. To make an appointment or to get help scheduling an appointment at a clinic closer to you, call Rutgers’ Vaccine Scheduling Assistance Program at 848-445-3033, Monday-Friday from 9 am – 5 pm:
NJ.com recently spoke to Rutgers experts Dr. Rey Panettieri and Dr. David Cennimo to get an explanation and then grabbed (digital) crayons to make a comic!
Rutgers ranks among the biggest contributors to a historic crowdsourced computing effort to search for COVID-19 treatments
When 2020 began, the world’s fastest computing device was the Summit supercomputer, which performs 200 quadrillion floating-point operations per second (200 petaFLOPS). A few months later, a combination of private individuals and organizations like Rutgers had collectively donated more than five times as much computing processing power to a medical research group called Folding@Home, the group reports.
“Supercomputers, such as Amarel here at Rutgers, are crucial in advancing the frontiers of research and instrumental in many of the COVID-19 research breakthroughs,” said Barr von Oehsen, associate vice president of Rutgers’ Office of Advanced Research Computing (OARC). Read the Full Article.
The principal investigators of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials at Rutgers discuss how the university became a site, and their challenges and successes
In the race to develop a vaccine to battle the coronavirus, Rutgers has served as a site for Phase 3 COVID-19 clinical trials for two of the country’s pharmaceutical giants. Jeffrey Carson, a Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and principal investigator at Rutgers for the Johnson & Johnson trial, and Shobha Swaminathan, associate professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and clinical research site leader for the Moderna trial, discuss how the medical schools were selected and give an inside look at the process of creating a safe and effective vaccine.
To read the full story.
Rutgers Begins COVID-19 Prevalence Study in Newark
Rutgers will help determine the prevalence of the coronavirus in Newark, one of the cities hardest hit by the pandemic, as part of the National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) response to the deadly global outbreak. The university is one of 26 sites in the country chosen by the agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to conduct community seroprevalence studies. “There are still so many questions unanswered and things we have to discover in real time in relation to this pandemic,” said Shobha Swaminathan, clinical research site leader, Rutgers Research with a Heart and associate professor at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who will lead the study in Newark. Given that COVID-19 causes a lot of asymptomatic infections, this study will help us to better understand how the virus has impacted our community.” To read the full story.
Researchers Study Virus Evolution Trends Relevant for COVID-19 and Other Pandemics
One year after the first COVID-19 case was reported, researchers and medical professionals continue to learn more about the virus that causes it. Through a $188,253 National Science Foundation grant, Rutgers University‒Camden researcher Andrey Grigoriev is studying the RNA genome of the coronavirus behind COVID-19 – and trying to anticipate how to combat its mutations in the future. “Viruses undergo frequent mutations, and the worldwide effort of sequencing the RNA of thousands of coronavirus isolates allows us to analyze them using computational methods,” says Grigoriev, a Rutgers‒Camden professor of biology. “We search for the regions in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genome that mutate rarely and try to understand what the reasons for such stability of these regions are.”
To read the full story.
Vaccine stockpiling by nations could lead to increase in COVID-19 cases, novel variant emergence
The allocation of COVID-19 vaccine between countries has thus far tended toward vaccine nationalism, wherein countries stockpile vaccines to prioritize access for their citizenry over equitable vaccine sharing.
The extent of vaccine nationalism, however, may strongly impact global trajectories of COVID-19 case numbers and increase the potential emergence of novel variants, according to a Princeton University and McGill University study published Aug. 17 in the journal Science. Read the Full Article.
Princeton technology could help improve COVID-19 vaccines
A new technology being developed by Princeton University researchers and alumni could offer a more effective and robust delivery method for COVID-19 vaccines. Compared to current vaccines, the technology, which relies on a new type of nanoparticle, could introduce five times as much of the vaccine’s active ingredient, mRNA, into recipients’ cells. This technology will be a boon for triggering a stronger immune response while also providing a more scalable vaccine production line, according to Robert Prud’homme, a professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Shahram Hejazi, a faculty member at the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, “We had shown that we could encapsulate mRNA prior to the pandemic, but when COVID struck and Pfizer and Moderna said ‘Let’s use mRNA technology for vaccines,’ we said, ‘Ok, with our technology we think we can do an even better job,’” Prud’homme said. “Our technique will allow the delivery of mRNA for COVID at higher loadings than with traditional technology.” To read the full story.
COVID-19 Vaccines Breathe Life into Research Done 20 Years Ago
Research conducted 20 years ago by a former NJIT dean is being put to new use in the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.
Barry Cohen, who was an associate dean of Ying Wu College of Computing, worked on the algorithm for bioengineering stable messenger RNA (mRNA), a key ingredient of the vaccine recently approved for emergency use by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. Read the Full Article.
Researchers Explain, and Predict, COVID-19 Spread With Advanced Models
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials seized on contact tracing as the most effective way to anticipate the virus’s migration from the initial, densely populated hot spots and try to curb its spread. Months later, infections were nonetheless recorded in similar patterns in nearly every region of the country, both urban and rural.
A team of environmental engineers, alerted by the unusual wealth of data published regularly by county health agencies throughout the pandemic, began researching new methods to describe what was happening on the ground in a way that does not require obtaining information on individuals’ movements or contacts. Funding for their effort came through a National Research Foundation RAPID research grant (CBET 2028271).
In a paper published May 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, they presented their results: a model that predicts where the disease will spread from an outbreak, in what patterns and how quickly.
“Our model should be helpful to policymakers because it predicts disease spread without getting into granular details, such as personal travel information, which can be tricky to obtain from a privacy standpoint and difficult to gather in terms of resources,” explained Xiaolong Geng, a research assistant professor of environmental engineering at NJIT who built the model and is one of the paper’s authors. Read the Full Article.