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USU’s IDCRP leads DoD Participation in STORM CHASER Study to Prevent COVID-19 After Exposure

A doctor draws a blood sample from a woman.

By Zachary Willis

While COVID-19 vaccinations are currently being distributed across the world to begin the process of reining in the pandemic, the threat of contracting the virus remains, and the population still waiting on vaccinations continues to be at risk of infection. However, help may be on the horizon by way of STORM CHASER, a study that is part of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response efforts and led in the Military Health System by the Uniformed Services University’s Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program (IDCRP). 

STORM CHASER, which stands for Study To Optimally Reduce Morbidity in Care Homes And Sites with Enhanced Risk, seeks to find out if COVID-19 could be prevented in people who recently have been exposed to others with the SARS-CoV-2 infection by administering an intramuscular long-acting antibody combination called AZD7442 to those who are within eight days of exposure and are not yet symptomatic. 

If successful, the product could be beneficial for those in high-risk circumstances, such as healthcare workers, people whose household members test positive for COVID-19, and restaurant workers. The clinical trial will determine whether volunteers receiving the antibody combination see immediate immunity and up to six months of protection from COVID-19 from a single dose of the medicine.

But how do long-acting antibody products differ from the vaccines currently being developed and administered?

“Vaccines require time to produce antibodies,” says Dr. Simon Pollett, an infectious disease physician and IDCRP lead for the STORM CHASER trial, “and thus do not offer immediate protection against COVID-19 when given after a SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The antibody product may provide very rapid protection against COVID-19 because the medicine is given while the virus is incubating.”

A container labeled COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibodies
USU's IDCRP will lead DoD's 5-site trial to determine efficacy of a monoclonal
antibody to prevent COVID-19 after exposure. (Shutterstock photo)

The antibody therapy is administered during a single visit in two shots to study participants in their gluteal muscles. The scientists also are looking at whether viral shedding, which makes the individual with the virus contagious to others, will be reduced in those who contract COVID-19 after receiving the antibody therapy.

Currently, the multi country STORM CHASER study is being conducted at multiple sites including five U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) facilities - Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington, William Beaumont Medical Center in Texas, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia, and the Uniformed Services University (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland. IDCRP is coordinating the study across all five DoD sites.

Study teams at these sites are made up of active duty, federal civilian or contractor physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and clinical research staff. Principal Investigators for each site are Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jeffrey Livezey at the Uniformed Services University, Army Col. (Dr.) Viseth Ngauy at Tripler AMC, Army Col. (Dr.) Anjali Kunz at Madigan AMC, Dr. Gina Kubicz at William Beaumont AMC, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Tida K. Lee at NMC Portsmouth. 

“Those who have recently been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and who are eligible for care in the Military Health System (including active duty service members) are potentially eligible to participate in this study at the five DoD sites,” said Navy Capt. (Dr.) Timothy Burgess, IDCRP director.

STORM CHASER is set to run for one year, with primary analyses likely occurring much earlier in 2021. The study is sponsored by Astra Zeneca, with IQVIA as the executing contract research organization.

To see if you are eligible to participate, contact Julia Rozman at julia.rozman.ctr@usuhs.edu. Ms. Rozman is the COVID-19 Research Area Clinical Research Manager III, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, supporting USU’s Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program.  For more information on the STORM CHASER Study, please visit https://www.c19stormchaserstudy.com/.   

[Note: The project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in partnership with the Department of Defense; Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense; under Contract No. W911QY-21-9-0001.]