Pitt County to participate in antigen test study

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is launching a community health initiative called “Say Yes! COVID Test” in Pitt County in collaboration with state and local health departments. The initiative will eventually include Chattanooga, Tenn., and provide up to 160,000 residents with free, rapid self-administered antigen tests. They can administer three tests a week for a month.


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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will provide the tests free of charge and evaluate whether frequent self-administered tests can help slow the rate of community transmission of COVID-19.

Francis S. Collins, MD, NIH director, said the initiative will determine the effectiveness of antigen tests in the response to the pandemic.

“This testing initiative is the first of this scale to attempt to make free, rapid, self-administered tests available community-wide in order to determine their effectiveness in our nation’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to gain foundational data that can guide how communities can use self-administered tests to mitigate viral transmission during this and future pandemics.”

Participants in the initiative will also have the option of volunteering in an NIH-supported research study that collects additional data through surveys. The questions are based on whether or not people changed behaviors to prevent the spread of the virus.

Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, director of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Center for Health Equity Research (CHER), is the UNC lead on the study and will work with Micky Cohen-Wolkowiez, MD, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. The evaluation portion of the study study will be lead by UNC CHER’s associate director, Guaray Dave, MD, who is also the director of evaluation of the NIH-funded North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute at UNC.

The rapid tests may disrupt the silent spread of COVID-19, which occurs when asymptomatic people continue to circulate in the community potentially infecting others. The tests are made by Quidel, the first company to make rapid flu tests used at doctor’s offices.