A study at Indiana University aims to shed light on so-called COVID-19 immunity, after a person has been infected or after being vaccinated. Studies like this one could also help shape what the COVID-19 vaccine response looks like.
The Aegis Study will include more than 2,000 participants from around the country; some who have been infected with COVID-19, some who have not, and some who have been vaccinated against the virus. Besides looking at virus immunity, the study will also look into reinfections and whether long-term immunity is feasible.
Kevin Maki is the study coordinator. He says a study like this is particularly important because there is still so much we don’t know about COVID-19 and how it will affect people long term.
“A lot of people think oh, I’ve had COVID, and now I’m done with it,” Maki said. “And we hope that’s true, but we don’t know it’s true. With common cold coronaviruses, we know people can get reinfected with the same virus, after six months or a year, or sometimes a little bit longer.”
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He said studies like the Aegis Study help us understand what COVID-19 immunity looks like and that could affect what our vaccine response looks like as well – will vaccines be a once-in-a-lifetime inoculation, like polio? Or will it be more like a yearly flu shot? Will we need boosters? And if so, when?
“We want to understand the immune response to vaccination and infection and then help to determine whether there are things that we can measure that will tell us whether a person is well-protected or not,” he said. “And that’s what is missing right now.”
Maki said the study is expected to have all participants enrolled in the study within the first months of the new year. He said it’s really become a race against the clock because of how many people are expected to get the vaccine so quickly, and because simple science tools, like pipettes and test tubes have become increasingly hard to find.