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Inova Health is partnering with George Mason University and the Virginia Department of Health to conduct a COVID-19 serology study to analyze the incidence of COVID-19 in children in Northern Virginia.

Inova is recruiting approximately 1,000 children, ages 0 to 19 for the study. Child participants will be asked to provide a blood sample, and they and/or their parents/guardians will also complete a questionnaire.

“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with VDH and others to help evaluate the rate of children in Northern Virginia who have antibodies to COVID-19,” said Rebecca Levorson, MD, Division Director for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Inova Children’s Hospital. “This point prevalence survey will help inform us more about the burden of COVID-19 disease in children in our area.”

VDH will use the information collected from this project to estimate the total number of children and teens that have been infected with the COVID-19 virus in Northern Virginia and statewide, including those who may have had mild or asymptomatic infections.

VDH will also analyze children’s risk factors for COVID-19 infection, including age, underlying health conditions, sociodemographic characteristics, history of COVID-19 infection within households and childcare exposures. The Virginia Pediatric Coronavirus Serology Project is being conducted, supported and requested by VDH as a public health surveillance activity. The project will be conducted over the next several months.

Interim results from Virginia’s ongoing adult serology study show an estimated 2.4 percent of adults statewide have antibodies to COVID-19. The new pediatric study, completed in collaboration with Inova Health System, will measure the proportion of children and teens with antibodies to COVID-19.

“The commonwealth’s low exposure rate among adults is a testament to Virginians’ sacrifice and dedication in battling this virus,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “But as a pediatrician, I know children are often impacted by disease in a different way than adults. These studies provide key insight into how COVID-19 spreads among different ages and demographics groups. With this information, we are one step closer to beating this virus.”

Northern Virginia was selected for this project due to the number of confirmed COVID-19 pediatric cases reported in the region. Northern Virginia’s population is also diverse in terms of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and race, which provides an important comparison to the rest of the Commonwealth.

In early June, the Commonwealth launched an adult COVID-19 serology study in partnership with the University of Virginia, Inova Health System, Virginia Commonwealth University, Sentara Healthcare and Carilion Clinic. To date, that project has enrolled 4,652 adults (93%) of the 5,000 participant goal and is ongoing.

The interim analysis, based on 3,113 participants, estimates that 2.4 percent of adults statewide have antibodies to COVID-19. By region, the estimated COVID-19 antibody prevalence is: Northern, 4.2%; Central, 3.0%; Eastern, 1.5%; Southwest, 1.0%; and Northwestern, 0.9%.

According to the study, COVID-19 antibodies are 13.1 times higher among Hispanic adults (14.4%) than non-Hispanic adults (1.1%). Adults under 50 years-old have the highest seroprevalence, while adults ages 60-69 and 70-79 have a 1.0% and 1.4% seroprevalence, respectively.

Adults who reported a health condition that put them at risk for severe complications of COVID-19 infection had a lower prevalence of antibodies to COVID-19 than those without a chronic health condition (1.5% compared to 3.0%). A full report is expected at the conclusion of the study next month, September 2020.

“It’s important to recognize that more than 95% of Virginians have not yet been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and remain at risk of infection,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “Individually and collectively, all people in Virginia should continue to take preventive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.”

Parents who are interested in their child participating in the study can check eligibility requirements at https://itmi.inova.org/redcap/surveys/, Access code: DFDRP84TD.

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