COVID19: Cyprus volunteers wanted for pandemic survey

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Scientists from three Cyprus universities are pooling knowhow to conduct a new study aiming to shed light on what percentage of the population has contracted COVID-19 and how the disease has affected people.

The study will be carried out by the Center of Excellence and Biomedical Research of the University of Cyprus, the Medical Schools of UCY and the University of Nicosia and the Department of Health Sciences of the European University.

Scientists will be checking the presence of antibodies against COVID-19 in three population groups to shed light on a series of unanswered questions.

Specifically, they are calling for volunteers from groups of people who tested positive to the virus, health professionals from the Nicosia General, Makarios III Hospital, and Paphos General Hospital and people from the general population who have not tested positive.

In the first stage of research, scientists will be calling volunteers who have recently been diagnosed positive to COVID and health workers, followed by a random selection of people who will be notified by phone.

Talking at a press conference on Tuesday, the Director of the Center of Excellence for Biobanking and Biomedical Research, Dr Constantinos Deltas said that scientists will also be looking at the role genetics have in determining which people develop more serious symptoms of the virus.

“It’s still hard to predict how long the pandemic will last and how many lives it will threaten around the world, but as scientists, we must do what we can with the tools at our disposal to best prepare the health system and Cypriot society to better handle the crisis,” said Deltas.

“We are also interested to know if everyone who tested positive has developed antibodies”.

Deltas said they will be looking into whether those who tested positive more recently have a higher count of antibodies compared to older cases, in a bid to understand how long antibodies last.

“We want to know if there are health professionals out there who have developed antibodies without realizing that they had contracted the virus.

“The same question applies to the general population. Do some of us have antibodies and not know it?”

Asked how long before the study starts showing data, Dr Deltas said that if people tested positive come forward immediately, then they hope to have useful results within the next six months.

Deltas said the process for participants will be a simple one, and that blood and urine samples will be taken.

The important thing, as he said, is for scientists to obtain the patient’s detailed medical history.

He added that a few hundred volunteers will be needed from each group.

For participation, volunteers should contact the Center Of Excellence in Biobanking And Biomedical Research at 22892815 or through the link https://biobank.cy/

Participants will not be charged for the tests.