COVID-19 study underway at Franciscan University

Jefferson County

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives. We’re a year and a half in, and still have questions on the virus.

Some of our questions may not be left unanswered for long as a new research study at the Franciscan University of Steubenville is underway.

They call it “Heard Immunity” study spearheaded by Dr. Kyle McKenna, biology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

The test that we’re performing allows us to see whether you’ve mounted an immune response to the coronavirus.

Dr. Kyle McKenna, Biology Professor, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Dr. McKenna explains you aren’t immune to the virus just by luck. Rather, it can happen to you if you’ve recovered from a natural infection of the virus or by vaccination.

Dr. McKenna and his team are testing to see how many are immune or resistant to the virus and he’s taking the population at the University into account.

How close are we to herd immunity? Which is critical because to the extent more are vaccinated, our numbers increase closer to herd immunity at 70% of individuals being exposed. This would suggest transmission go down.

Dr. Kyle McKenna, Biology Professor, Franciscan University of Steubenville

If transmission is down, he adds:

This could lead to changes in mask mandate, changes in how we’ve been living for the last year and a half.

Dr. Kyle McKenna, Biology Professor, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Dr. McKenna and his team are still working on gathering data.

The goal is to test 500 to 1000 students. So far, there are only 350 involved in the study and they continue to work on it before the semester ends.

Dr. McKenna is leading the study, alongside Franciscan University’s nursing program and biology department.

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