Stanford University and its school of medicine have launched plans to survey the population of greater San Francisco for COVID-19, in an effort to build an early warning system for future outbreaks.
Using a combination of self-collection testing kits and online reporting, the Community Alliance to Test Coronavirus at Home, or CATCH Study, aims to estimate the true prevalence of the disease among the 8.5 million people living in the Bay Area.
Ultimately, the study hopes to scale up a diagnostic infrastructure that can provide fast remote testing to a broad and representative sample of the population, including among the underserved and vulnerable across 12 counties.
The program is currently seeking to enroll participants, who will report their exposures and symptoms daily through an online portal.
Home test kits—developed in collaboration with the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which is also helping to fund the study—will be delivered through the mail within 24 hours at no cost, and will contain a gentle nasal swab for self-collection. Samples will then be processed at Stanford’s laboratories.
"Our main objective is to learn where and how the virus is spreading—whether people are displaying symptoms or not—and which communities are most vulnerable,” said co-lead researcher Yvonne Maldonado, an associate professor of health research and policy at Stanford Medicine.
“These insights will help our scientists and local public officials gain a deeper understanding of the distribution of COVID-19 throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area so that they can stop its spread," Maldonado said.