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St. Luke's joins nationwide COVID-19 study

The hospital was asked to participate thanks to a study proposal from one of its doctors.

St. Luke's aerial photo
St. Luke's hospital pictured from the sky in July. (File / News Tribune)
Tyler Schank / File / Duluth News Tribune

St. Luke's hospital and the University of Minnesota are joining a nationwide COVID-19 study, according to an announcement from the hospital.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is coordinating the recently launched study, which will hopefully yield "major implications" for virus treatment.

The Duluth-based hospital and the Whiteside Institute for Clinical Research, which is a partnership between St. Luke's and the University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth, will study the virus in Duluth health care staff.

Researchers plan to study the percentage of people with COVID-19 who are symptomatic and how antibodies protect people from reinfection. The length of the virus' shedding period, development of antibodies and immunity will also be studied, a news release said.

St. Luke's was asked to participate due to a study proposal from Dr. Harmony Tyner.


Tyner is an infectious disease specialist with St. Luke's and leads the hospital's Research on the Epidemiology of COVID-19 in Emergency Response and Healthcare Personnel. At the start of the pandemic, she drafted an epidemiology COVID-19 study that was similar to the CDC's.

After submitting the draft to the CDC for grant funding, St. Luke's was asked to participate.

“This project is groundbreaking and it’s exciting to be a part of,” Tyner said in a news release. “It will help us answer many of the questions that everyone is trying to answer about the epidemiology of COVID-19. It will also allow us to learn more about what infection with COVID-19 looks like in real time. That knowledge, in turn, enables us to limit the impact of this virus locally and globally.”

The hospital will enroll 500 health care workers across a variety of age, gender and occupations from the area in the study. St. Luke's staff are currently enrolled, and the hospital is working to add first responders to the study as well.

Qualified participants will complete weekly symptom assessments and swab their own noses. They will also have blood drawn periodically to test for COVID-19 antibodies, the release said.

Kaiser Permanente, the University of Arizona, University of Miami, University of Utah, and Baylor, Scott and White are also involved in the study, which is slated to wrap up in May 2021.

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