This weekend – June 5-6 – Oregon State University’s TRACE-COVID-19 teams will be coming back home to Corvallis, testing samples door-to-door. Sampling will follow the same routines as before with a significant change – now in addition to the teams taking nasal swabs to determine if a person is currently infected, they will also ask for saliva samples to determine the presence of COVID antibodies.
Project leader Ben Dalziel, Assistant Professor in the OSU College of Science, says that saliva samples can show the researchers whether antibodies to COVID-19 came from a previous infection or the vaccine.
The goal is to show what fraction of Corvallisites have been previously infected regardless of their symptoms.
Dean of the OSU College of Science Roy Haggerty says, “That fraction has not been reliably estimated to date, in large part because many infections – possibly the majority – have occurred in people with no or few signs of illness, which greatly decreased the likelihood of them getting tested, especially early in the pandemic.”
“The goal of the antibody survey is to reveal the landscape of immunity in Corvallis, which reflects our community’s history with the pandemic and can inform us about our current levels of protection,” Dalziel says.
Corvallis has gone through nasal swabbing before.
“And it’s important to continue monitoring community prevalence of the virus,” said project co-leader Jeff Bethel, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Corvallis wastewater has been tested weekly since May of 2020 in an effort to monitor the amount of virus shed the city has experienced, and to maintain a record of the pandemic’s effect. The saliva tests will inform the city and state about what restrictions should be in place going forward.
In the past, Corvallisites have had a 70% participation rate, which has created an excellent roadmap of how this virus has moved through the community. Hopefully that level of participation will continue.
So if someone comes to your door this weekend and asks you to spit, do it for your town.
To learn more about what TRACE is doing, visit their website.