Global WACh

December 1, 2020

Researchers receive award to estimate COVID-19 prevalence, household transmission, and antibody response among pregnant women in King County, WA

Dr. Alison Drake (Assistant Professor, Global Health and Epidemiology [Adjunct]) and Dr. Sylvia LaCourse (Assistant Professor, Medicine and Global Health) are the Principal Investigators of a new study to estimate the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in King County, WA.

“COVID-19 prevalence, household transmission, and antibody response among pregnant women and their pediatric and adult household members in South King County, WA state” is a one-year antibody surveillance study that will provide important data on maternal, pregnancy, and infant outcomes among women who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, including asymptomatic and mild infections.  The study is conducted with co-investigators from UW Lab Medicine (Dr. Alex Greninger), Obstetrics and Gynecology (Dr. Alisa Kachikis), and Pediatrics (Dr. Janet Englund) and Global WACh Research Coordinator Kelsey Kinderknecht, in collaboration with Seattle Children’s Hospital, UW Medical Centers (Montlake, Northwest, Valley) and affiliated clinics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty remains about the impact of novel coronavirus during pregnancy.  Because COVID-19 affects people differently with symptoms ranging from asymptomatic to severe, public health officials and researchers still do not know how many people have been infected.  Antibody surveillance studies are an important strategy to help them understand how many infections occurred by detecting antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in blood samples.  In addition, the study seeks to understand the impact of less severe infections on maternal and infant health.

The study will test blood samples from 1,000 pregnant women in King County to estimate the frequency of infection during pregnancy.  They will also collect and test blood samples from household members to estimate the frequency of transmission to adults and children living in the same household.   Understanding the durability of transmission among women, and other adults and children at home may provide unique insight on how long immunity to SARS-CoV-2 lasts.  These findings can be potentially beneficial to the development of future vaccines to protect women, adolescents, and children and to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.