Verily links with Janssen for at-home COVID-19 immune system study

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Verily's will tap into real-world data spanning the two years leading up to the time a person joined the study as well as two years after. (Getty Images/Naeblys)

Verily is teaming up with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen division to observe the body’s earliest immune responses to a coronavirus infection, with people participating in the research from within their own homes. 

The study will be launched through Verily’s Project Baseline testing program and aims to collect biological information and real-world data in the weeks immediately after a person tests positive for COVID-19.

The goal is to identify early warning biomarkers that could help guide healthcare providers through future treatments as well as potentially predict whether an individual’s case may turn severe.

“Acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by SARS-COV-2 and other viral and bacterial pathogens carries with it a high mortality rate, and more than 2.2 million people will suffer each year as a result,” said James Merson, Ph.D., Janssen’s global head of infectious disease R&D.

“Since immune response patterns observed in COVID-19 patients are similar to those caused by other respiratory pathogens, it is our hope to apply the findings from this study beyond COVID-19 to other illnesses that carry a high patient burden,” Merson said.

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Verily, Google’s life-science-focused sibling company, and Janssen will also seek to tap into the data generated by people during their everyday lives to search for any previous health-related signals in the two years leading up to the point they consented to participate in the study as well as in the two years after.

“COVID-19 is impacting millions of people worldwide from all different backgrounds and health statuses,” said Verily’s chief medical and scientific officer, Jessica Mega, M.D. “We anticipate learnings from the study will help to better inform future treatment and prevention practices as the world continues to fight this devastating pandemic.”

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Separately, Verily recently opened up its coronavirus-focused Project Baseline efforts to children as young as four, while pediatric testing and COVID-19 research has previously been limited. The program will offer free COVID-19 testing to children through 450 screening sites across 16 states.