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Louisville's Co-Immunity Project receives $1.5 million to expand COVID-19, antibody testing

The Co-Immunity Project will test members of the community for coronavirus antibodies to develop a 'radar' of the virus in Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Co-Immunity Project, a collaborative effort to track and curb COVID-19 in Kentucky, has received $1.5 million from the James Graham Brown Foundation.

The University of Louisville said the donation will help expand testing and launch a public "virus radar" for understanding its spread.

"We are deeply grateful for this timely philanthropic support that enables us to begin the next phase of the Co-Immunity Project," said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. "It is vital for decision makers to have the information to track virus activity as the economy continues phased reopening. Knowing where the virus is will help us avoid a second wave."

The project allows health care providers to do three-step testing for COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in individuals, along with testing of wastewater. The goal is to develop a "radar" of the virus in Jefferson County, eventually spreading to other communities.

Phase I of the research is complete, as they tested more than 1,000 health care workers in Baptist, Norton and UofL Health with the help of a donation from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and other individual donations. Phase II will include the testing of other community members.

Households will receive invitations in the mail to participate in this research from the University of Louisville. People will then be selected to participate based on demographics of the overall population of Jefferson County.

A new group of participants will be selected every six weeks for virus testing and antibody testing. If someone receives the mailing and signs up on the Co-Immunity Project website, they may be called right away, they may be called for a later group or they may not be called.

"It is very important that the citizens of Jefferson County respond to this call for participants," said Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., director of the Envirome Institute. "We cannot do this research without the participation of residents from every part of the metro area."

Scientists from across the globe will have access to the data for future study on the effectiveness of antibody therapy. UofL said the data also may be used to better identify individuals who are better able to fight off the coronavirus.

RELATED: What is 'herd immunity' and why do some experts say we need it to beat the coronavirus?

RELATED: Collaborative project underway in Louisville testing health care workers for COVID-19, antibodies

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