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NHRMC, Wake Forest Baptist Health launch COVID symptom study

Updated: Dec. 1, 2020 at 3:57 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Physicians are hoping to learn more about the symptoms COVID-19 patients experience.

That’s why New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Wake Forest Baptist Health have teamed up to launch a major research study into the symptoms, and how they are affecting patients in the region.

“I think it will give us more insight into what actually is happening in North Carolina,” said NHRMC Radiation Oncologist Dr. Patrick Maguire. “It’ll drill down into subsets of the population. Coastal North Carolina: was it different than the Triangle, versus Asheville area? So we’ll get more of a demographic population study there.”

Participants do not need to have been diagnosed with COVID-19; in fact, Maguire said they are actively looking for participants who are healthy in order to monitor symptoms, should they develop, for any new exposures or cases.

Additionally, Maguire said the study is especially intriguing to physicians in his area of expertise, as cancer patients and other immunocompromised individuals typically fare the worst.

“Most of the data shows the patients who have suppressed immune systems, if they get COVID, they’re going to have a higher likelihood of having a bad outcome,” He said. “So we want to know on a broader scale patients, who may not even have symptoms yet, to follow them prospectively through time to say, ‘Okay, these folks are getting active cancer treatment...whether it’s chemotherapy, radiation, immune therapy...and then what portion of them will get symptoms? And then, how do they do from there?’”

To volunteer, participants must be at least 18 years old, and must be either an NHRMC healthcare worker or a patient within the NHRMC system.

The study itself only requires participants to fill out a daily questionnaire, which Maguire said only takes a minute or two at most.

Some participants will be asked to fill out longer surveys, and some will be asked to give blood and saliva samples through in-home kits, but these are not required and can be waived.

More information and the link to sign up can be found on NHRMC’s website.

Maguire said the study will not only help physicians understand what patients are going through now, but could also be helpful in the future.

“Having these prospective symptom studies will help with, God forbid, the next time we have to deal with this,” he said. “I think that these epidemiologists and infectious disease experts will have a better handle on, ‘Hey, what’s...what was really happening in the population?’ beyond, you know, what we hear from the CDC or public health department.”

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