Fred Hutch recruits essential workers for COVID-19 study

SEATTLE — We already owe so much to people on the front lines, like health care workers, first responders, grocery store employees and bus drivers.

Researchers at Fred Hutch in Seattle say essential workers have a unique opportunity to help in one more way.

“We look for people who, through their work, are in close contact with other people,” said Dr. Michael Boeckh, who’s leading a study called CovidWatch that’s recruiting people likely exposed to coronavirus.

He wants to sign up 200 to 300 people in the Seattle area and monitor them for six months.

Researchers particularly want to hear from people of color and members of communities hit hard by the virus.

"We do want to understand how the virus behaves," Boeckh said.

Every week, participants will give themselves a COVID-19 swab test.

Once a month, they'll take a quick blood sample with a home device and mail it in for an antibody test.

"We wanted to make this very easy for people to participate," Boeckh said.

His team will track if people become infected, whether they show symptoms, and how sick they get.

That will help figure how intensely the virus replicates and how antibodies respond.

It will also help answer the big question of whether people who had COVID-19 can get it again.

"There is some big interest in this since there have been some reports where that has happened, but we know very little about it," Dr. Boeckh said.

Researchers hope their work will also assist in developing a coronavirus vaccine.

For more information about the study, click here.