Pottstown Patients Participating in COVID-19 Research

The hands of a laboratory researcher (at top) involved in COVID-19 testing

POTTSTOWN PA – Two patients at Pottstown Hospital are enrolled in a 2,000-patient national study of potentially effective treatments for COVID-19, hospital owner Tower Health said Tuesday (Aug. 18, 2020). The goal is to understand why some patients with COVID-19 worsen while others recover. Tower also reported it was looking to add more patients to the research effort.

Tower said it “is among 10 leading medical institutions nationwide” involved in the study, labeled as “IMmunoPhenotyping Assessment in a COVID-19 Cohort,” funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It’s hoped the research will help determine “how certain immunological measures correspond to, or may even predict, clinical severity of COVID-19.”

In addition to the Pottstown Hospital patients, who were not identified by name, Tower’s participation in the study also includes 36 patients at its Reading Hospital, and two at Chestnut Hill Hospital, for a total of 40. Its goal is to enroll 100.

Participants are followed for 12 months after their hospitalization to assess how well they recover and whether they develop durable immunity to the virus. Tower Health said it is working with the Drexel University College of Medicine to collect and analyze data.

Patients are voluntarily enrolled within 48 hours of admission and then followed by researchers and clinical teams. They collect blood and nasal swab samples from study participants throughout their hospitalization, and at subsequent outpatient visits during the next 12 months. Those biologic samples are analyzed for various aspects of their immune response to the virus.

As participants recover, Tower said, investigators will evaluate their immune responses to discover any factors that may provide long-term protection against re-infection. “We are hopeful” data collected from the study “will begin to give us answers as to why the coronavirus affects some patients differently,” Tower’s section chief of infectious diseases, Dr. Debra Powell, noted.

Photo by Ilka Cole via Usaf, used with permission