Coronavirus Research by SPH Researchers

UW School of Public Health researchers are leading studies to understand the novel coronavirus, the impact the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has in communities, and how to stop it.

Assessing Mitigation Measures

Transmission-reduction efforts have greater impact on COVID-19 than travel bans

While travel bans can slow the spread of COVID-19, reducing the virus transmission has a greater impact on controlling the pandemic, says a study co-authored by Professor Elizabeth Halloran.

Researchers evaluate homemade face mask materials

Responding to a request from the state to test a variety of fabrics for possible use in handmade face masks, Marty Cohen, Michael Yost, Christopher Simpson and Scott Meschke found that surgical wrap, Thinsulate insulation and high-quality quilting cotton performed best in terms of filtration and breathability.

Public health experts explain benefits of face coverings

In a video, Dean Hilary Godwin offers some practical information about using masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. Vic Dean Jared Baeten also provided comments on why it’s important to wear a mask in public.

Studying how communities are coping

A study by Nicole Errett, lecturer, and Tania Busch Isaksen, senior lecturer, is gathering data and stories on how individuals, families and communities in King County are coping with the measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 virus.

Testing and Health Care Delivery

New study clears path for self-sampling for COVID-19

A simple, less invasive method that allows patients to collect their own samples to be tested for COVID-19 could help protect health care workers, preserve limited personal protective equipment and significantly speed up the testing process, according to a study co-authored by Gerald Cangelosi.

Faculty member to develop new antigen-based COVID-19 test 

Paul Drain has received a more than $760,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a novel antigen-based COVID-19 test that can be used at the point of care in either community-based or resource-limited settings.

In a new editorial published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, Andy Stergachis highlights lessons learned from Wuhan, China, that could inform the delivery of pharmaceutical services in alternative care facilities set up to address the surge in COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 linked to heart issues, poor outcomes for patients on ventilators

A study, led by PhD student Matt Arentz, of 21 critically ill U.S. patients with COVID-19, shows high rates of mortality overall and poor health outcomes among patients requiring ventilation, as well as surprising rates of heart issues related to the novel coronavirus.

Study shows how a retirement living facility averted a COVID-19 outbreak

Health professionals should not rely solely on symptoms to determine if an older adult should receive a lab test for the coronavirus, suggests a study led by Alison Roxby, in which most elders with coronavirus infection did not experience a fever, cough or other problems common in COVID-19.

Contact Tracing

SPH launches free contact tracing training

A new training developed by the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice will equip an army of contact tracers with the skills they need to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The 90-minute contact tracing training, called Every Contact Counts, is available at no cost and designed to deliver concise instruction. 

Prevention and Treatment

A multi-site clinical trial, led by the Department of Global Health, in collaboration with the Grossman School of Medicine at New York University, aims to definitively determine whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent transmission in people exposed to the novel coronavirus.

Researchers enrolling COVID-19 patients for treatment trial | Enroll in study

SPH Vice Dean Jared Baeten and Christine Johnston of the UW School of Medicine have received a nearly $6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct a multi-site randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of two drug regimens – hydroxychloroquine and hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin – for patients with COVID-19.

Vaccine Development

SPH epidemiologist leads COVID-19 vaccine trial

The first human clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, began March 16 in Seattle, led by Research Professor Lisa Jackson and others at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. So far, the vaccine is showing promising results but only eight people have been tested, and trials must be scaled way up to see if Moderna's vaccine can work in the real world.

Researchers develop core protocol for clinical trials during outbreaks such as COVID-19

Thomas Fleming helped devise a new approach to clinical trials during infectious disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19, that could help researchers overcome myriad challenges when attempting to test vaccines and treatments.

New core protocol for vaccines against COVID-19

A draft core protocol for COVID-19 vaccine trials was recently published by the World Health Organization R&D Working Group, whose members include a number of researchers from the University of Washington School of Public Health and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Modeling Infection and Fatality Rates

Study reports ‘staggering’ death rate in US among those infected who show symptoms

COVID-19 is a lot more deadly than the flu, concludes a new study by Anirban Basu that also projects a grim future if the U.S. doesn’t put up a strong fight against the spread of the virus. The study uses the estimated death rate among symptomatic COVID-19 cases to project what is happening currently in these communities, such as what are the likely numbers for total infections and symptomatic cases.

Advising Policymakers

Dean Godwin joins team of experts to advise Mayor Durkan on COVID-19 strategies

Dean Hilary Godwin has been named to a panel advising Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan on strategies for short and long-term community-wide infection mitigation efforts. The experts are meeting weekly with Mayor Durkan to provide advisory support as the City of Seattle works to achieve the rapid scaling of public health infrastructure required to meet its goal of sustainably mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.

Worker Health and Safety

SPH researcher identifies workers most harmed by economic disruption due to COVID-19

Workers who are most susceptible to layoffs or cuts in hours need extra protections during and post COVID-19 crisis, according to Assistant Professor Marissa Baker.

Researchers launch survey to help businesses reopen safely

The Pacific Northwest Workplace Impact Survey, a collaboration between Assistant Professor Marissa Baker and Research Industrial Hygienist Marc Beaudreau, aims to identify business leaders’ concerns about reopening and offer solutions.

Study shows 75% of US workers can’t work exclusively from home, face greater risks during pandemic

About three-quarters of U.S. workers, or 108 million people, are in jobs that cannot be done from home during a pandemic, putting these workers at increased risk of exposure to disease. This majority of workers are also at higher risk for other job disruptions such as layoffs, furloughs or reductions in hours, a study led by Assistant Professor Marissa Baker shows.

Impact on Vulnerable Populations

Food Security

Study looks at food security and access in Washington state

A new online survey led in part by Jennifer Otten and Adam Drewnowski asks Washington state residents to describe how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn have affected their food access and economic security.

And More


Faculty co-lead global research network to confront emerging pandemic viruses

An international group of researchers – including faculty from the UW Schools of Public Health and Medicine and the UW Medicine's Institute of Protein Design – will work together to combat emerging pandemic viruses under the auspices of a newly formed United World Antiviral Research Network (UWARN). The network will be led by Judith Wasserheit, Peter Rabinowitz, Wesley C. Van Voorhis and Michael Gale Jr. 

START Center answers call from Gates Foundation to support COVID-19 efforts

Faculty and students from the START Center, led by Judd Walson and Stephen Hawes, are providing urgent policy advice to the government of India during the country's lockdown, identifying potential opportunities for how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can better prepare health systems to respond to COVID-19 and more.

Majority of state’s heroin users want to reduce use; syringe programs helping during COVID-19 crisis

A new survey of people who inject illicit drugs in the state of Washington yields positive and important findings for policy makers as the world struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, said Caleb Banta-Green and other authors of the UW/Public Health-Seattle & King County survey.

Researchers investigate whether pets can get COVID-19 | Enroll in study

A team led by Peter Rabinowitz is studying how people interact with their cats and dogs to better understand the risks of novel coronavirus transmission between humans and their pets. Researchers are now recruiting participants who have tested positive for COVID-19.