Published on June 17, 2020

All of Us Research Program launches COVID-19 research initiatives

The All of Us Research Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, has announced that it is leveraging its significant and diverse participant base to seek new insights into COVID-19 — through antibody testing, a survey on the pandemic’s impacts and collection of electronic health record information.

All of Us will make data gathered through these activities broadly accessible to approved researchers over time, in future releases of its data platform, the Researcher Workbench, now in beta testing. Analyses may help reveal the origins of entry, spread and impact of COVID-19 in the United States.

“With our nearly 350,000 participant partners across the country, All of Us will enable the research community to answer some of today’s most critical questions and inform future preparedness efforts,” said Josh Denny, MD, All of Us’ chief executive officer.

Antibody testing

All of Us will test blood samples from 10,000 or more participants who joined the program most recently, starting with samples from March 2020 and working backward until positive tests are no longer found. The tests will show the prevalence of novel coronavirus exposure among All of Us participants, and help researchers assess varying rates across regions and communities.

Study collaborators include the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, supported by the National Cancer Institute; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Quest Diagnostics.

The program will look for a certain kind of antibody produced in response to infection, IgG antibodies, using a test approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. Positive samples will potentially undergo further testing to determine if the positive finding is due to the new coronavirus specifically and to assess the level of the immune system’s response.

COVID-19 Participant Experience (COPE) Survey

In addition to antibody testing, All of Us has deployed a new online survey to better understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on participants’ physical and mental health. This 20- to 30-minute survey is designed both for participants who have been ill with COVID-19 and those who have not, and includes questions on COVID-19 symptoms, stress, social distancing and economic impacts.

Electronic health records

To round out its COVID-19 research efforts, All of Us is rapidly collecting relevant information from participants’ electronic health records. More than 200,000 participants have shared their electronic health records with the program so far, offering a rich dataset for analysis.

“Collectively, these efforts are an important step toward helping researchers learn more about COVID-19 and its impact on different communities across the United States,” said Kelly Gebo, M.D., M.P.H., All of Us’ chief medical and scientific officer. “We are grateful to our participants for so generously sharing their information, which will allow us to support research on COVID-19 and other diseases.”

All of Us, which launched national enrollment in 2018, is building a massive research resource with data and samples shared by participants for use in thousands of studies, spanning many different aspects of health and disease.

Essentia Health is a local enrollment partner for the All of Us Research Program. Participants do not need to be patients of Essentia Health to join the program. To learn more about All of Us, visit EssentiaHealth.org/AllofUs.

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