National Institutes of Health is asking 10,000 people to volunteer for study about COVID-19 impacts

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(CNN) – 10,000 volunteers are being sought for a study that hopes to determine how many Americans have been infected by the new coronavirus without even knowing it.

It’s aimed at figuring out the true magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and to identify which communities are most affected by it.

Researchers with the National Institutes of Health are working to confirm how many American adults, without a confirmed coronavirus infection, have carried the virus but had mild symptoms, undocumented illness, or didn’t have access to testing when they were sick.

Researchers will collect and analyze blood samples from as many as 10,000 volunteers, searching for antibodies or proteins the immune system produces to fight a specific infectious agent.

Researchers said current testing of patients known to be infected only identifies active infection, not those who have recovered.

In blood samples found to contain antibodies, researchers may perform further tests to evaluate the volunteer’s immune responses to the virus.

This data may provide insight as to why these cases were less severe than those that lead to hospitalization.

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