Our group is working to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by applying our expertise in viral epidemiology, diagnostics, and immunology to this novel infection. One current areas of focus is developing a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), including epidemiologic factors associated with transmission and characteristics of protective immune responses. Another focus is on developing and validating new methods and tools for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2 infection, with a focus on sample self-collection to increase accessibility of diagnostics and enhance feasibility of research studies. We are also involved in studies to determine population-level prevalence and infection patterns, to inform public health decisions.
Our CovidWatch study (co-run with Dr. Alpana Waghmare) is aimed at identifying the infection rate of SARS-CoV-2, how long a person that encountered the virus is able to spread the virus, and if an individual can be re-infected again. This study may also help us to identify protective immune responses, informing vaccine development. With collaborators, we are also validating diagnostic self-sampling methods including nasal swabs and the Tasso blood collection device. Through active involvement with the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) study, we are helping to develop a better understanding of the outbreak by collecting nasal swabs for viral testing from a representative sample of healthy and sick people across Seattle and King County.