When Dr. Anthony Iafrate set up in Bellingham Square more than two months ago to do an innovative COVID-19 anti-body quick test on random people walking by, his findings were groundbreaking at the time – with 30 percent of those walking down the street found to have COVID-19 anti-bodies.
Since that time, his study has traveled to Boston and to Somerville, but now he said he would like to come back to Chelsea to respectfully study the population once again – this time to tryto find out if there is immunity against COVID for those who have had it. Boiled down: Can you get it more than once? “I think it would be valuable to get another snapshot,” he said.
“The first time we found that just random people on the street, some 30 percent, had anti-bodies. Is it now 50 percent or 60 percent? I’d like to do a longitudinal study with individuals to monitor symptoms and shadow them. That is the kind of study that would teach us about immunity. It would be longer and more challenging.” Dr. Iafrate said the Chelsea people were wonderful, and he had great respect for the community when he was first here studying what anti-bodies in a hot spot meant. No one knew. Few still know.
“Right now there is discussion in Chelsea about what to do next,” he said. He said with what they have learned elsewhere, there is a potential to answer some major questions about immunity in Chelsea. “There is a need to return to Chelsea to do additional studies,” he said. “There are things we could discover. I would say we learned a lot in Boston and Chelsea…It has its own pace. I would hope within the next month we’ll have next steps for studying the kinds of immunity in the City of Chelsea.
Data is critical and I think we should not lose the opportunity to follow and study how the epidemiological process – especially with people who have anti-bodies are immune to infection.” He said that will require a sense of ethics, and approaching the community with respect and sensitivity given what Chelsea has been through. He said they would work directly with individuals this time, and give them results – which they did not do the last time they were here due to the random nature of it. He said such a study would also teach them what to do better if there is ever a next time. “We would learn what to focus on if anything happens again,” he said. “I see it to be potentially meaningful information on how we would do things better next time and also where to focus our attention.”