Fred Hutch launches new COVID-19 volunteer study

CovidWatch to investigate infection rates, transmission times, potential re-infections and regularly share results
artist rendering of coronavirus
Artist rendering of coronavirus

SEATTLE — April 17, 2020 — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is launching a new COVID-19 research project called CovidWatch. This volunteer longitudinal study, aims to answer some of the most important questions about COVID-19 including:

  • The infection rate of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, over time  
  • How long a person that encountered the virus can shed the virus
  • If an individual can be re-infected again

The results may also help the research team and the entire scientific community understand which immune responses help to protect a person and need to be generated by a vaccine. The research team plans to regularly share results, insights and trends from the study. 

Dr. Michael Boeckh
Dr. Michael Boeckh Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

“Fred Hutch is well-positioned to bring our track record in respiratory virus research, scientific integrity, compassion for people and drive for excellence, to better understand and ultimately cure this disease,” said Dr. Michael Boeckh, head of the Infectious Disease Sciences Program at Fred Hutch. “Seattle was one of the first places in the country to experience the devastation from this disease, but I’m confident the collective expertise from this region and the commitment from the community will empower others across the globe to better control the outbreak.”

To qualify for the study, volunteers must:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Have a high risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus
  • Complete a secure online screening questionnaire

Once an eligible screening questionnaire is submitted and reviewed, a member of the study team will reach out for a remote consent visit. The study overview, training, and procedures will all be discussed at this time. If a participant continues meeting all entry criteria, they will sign an electronic consent form and be sent a screening kit to self-collect samples to confirm study participation. Confirmed study participants will be asked to collect weekly nasal swabs and monthly blood samples for antibody testing using a novel home blood collection device (Tasso OnDemand™, Seattle, WA).  Participants will be compensated for their efforts.

Boeckh and colleagues from Fred Hutch’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division research team will manage the study. As part of its efforts to help the public health community respond to the pandemic, Amazon is supporting this effort with funding, collaboration on the study design, as well as technical expertise and web hosting from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Fred Hutch researchers are playing a leading role in an international scientific response to the pandemic — tracking the virus' spread, developing diagnostic tests, designing vaccine trials, and working to prevent future outbreaks. For more information, visit Fred Hutch’s Coronavirus Overview.


At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first National Cancer Institute-funded cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

Tom Kim