The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network Today, the COVID 19 test campaign was resumed at home, almost a month after the program was suspended due to regulatory deficiencies.
Public Health – Seattle & King County announced that the research study could continue with the approval of an institutional review committee and oversight by the University of Washington, Seattle Children's’s and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
"SCAN continues to provide an important and unique window for the COVID-19 outbreak in King County and will also help us in the next phase to expand access to tests for risk groups," said Jeff Duchin, Public Health Health Officer – Seattle & King County, said in a blog post. "This data can affect public health decisions in the coming weeks and months as King County takes steps to increase activity and get back to work."
Gaining approval from the Examination Board resolved a problem that caused the organizers of SCAN to pause the project on May 12th.
When the project started in late March, it was operated under the guidance of the Food and Drug Administration, which gave the state health authorities the authority to approve emergency testing procedures.
These guidelines have changed over the past month, so SCAN needed a separate FDA approval to use its home-collected tests for diagnostic purposes. SCAN started the process of securing the required authorization in March, but the process is not yet complete.
Meanwhile, Even collected samples can be used for research purposes – as long as the procedure is expressly approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). "Under the approval and supervision of the IRB, SCAN can return test results to individuals," the organizers told GeekWire in an email.
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According to SCAN, the safety and accuracy of the test was verified based on its experience with more than 17,000 self-collected samples, including samples that were analyzed for a separate project called "The" Seattle flu study.
In the future, the study participants will be asked to fill out an informed consent form that is longer and more detailed than the previously used approval form.
Because conditions have changed, SCAN cannot return test results for samples submitted prior to the break. "The team is aware that this is frustrating and will contact affected people directly with further information," said the health authorities.
Anyone can apply to participate in the project via the SCAN websitewhether they are sick or not. But not all who apply are selected to participate. SCAN uses strategies to prioritize child enrollment and appropriate representation based on age, geography, race and ethnicity, income and primary language.
Between March 23 and May 9, the program analyzed 12,482 samples collected and identified 102 positive results for COVID-19. Of these 102 cases, 87% of respondents had not received personal clinical treatment before being admitted to SCAN – either because they did not consider their symptoms to be severe enough or because they had no access to health services.
Among other results reported by SCAN researchers:
- The COVID-19 prevalence in King County appears to have peaked at the end of March, declining rapidly in the first half of April and declining more slowly since then.
- SCAN participants in South King County had a higher proportion of positive test results than residents in North King County.
- SCAN participants who lived in larger households more often tested positive for COVID-19, and if one participant tested positive, subsequent participants from the same household also tested positive.
Before the break, children were significantly underrepresented in the sample group. SCAN researchers want to increase the representation of children in their sample as well as the representation of residents and people in South King County in key census classifications such as Indians, Blacks, Hispanic / LatinX, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders.
"The insights we gain from broad community testing are very valuable in informing our response to public health as the outbreak continues," said UW Professor Jay Shendure, who serves as scientific director of the Brotman Baty Institute and Chief lead researcher for the Seattle Flu Acts Study.
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SCAN is a partnership between the Seattle Flu Study and Public Health – Seattle & King County. It is funded by Gates Ventures, Bill Gates' private office, and receives technical advice from experts in organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and disease control and prevention centers.
The Institute for Disease Modeling offers support in data modeling. Amazon Care, the health program for Amazon employees, provides logistical support for the delivery and collection of home pickup sets.
The Seattle Flu Study was developed by the Brotman Baty Institute in collaboration with UW Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s.
Public Health – Seattle & King County notes that SCAN is a respiratory virus monitoring program and not a clinical service. If you think you either have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, please stay at home, contact your doctor and follow the instructions Public Health Guide.
If access to health care is a problem, you can Get tested for free on COVID-19 at the Open access test sites in King County. For more information, call 206-477-3977. If you are interested in supporting SCAN's efforts to expand its reach, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.