ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Two-and-a-half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, while the virus is not a complete mystery anymore, there are certainly plenty of unanswered questions.

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) is continuing its critical role in conducting various studies pertaining to the virus. One researcher is currently seeking volunteers for is designed for families.

“Really the main goal of the study is to look into why children and adults seem to manifest such different symptoms in response to infection with COVID-19,” Dr. Jennifer Nayak, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at URMC, said.

“We take all-comers regardless of whether they think they’ve had an infection, they think they haven’t had an infection, young, old – grandparents living in the house; really the only requirement is that there has to be at least one child living in the house,” Dr. Nayak continued.

And the child living in the home can be any age, up to 18. As health experts have learned over the pandemic years, the virus has a tendency to change and evolve. The nature of this study has also changed a bit along the way.

“Early on, our suspicion was a lot of undiagnosed infections, and to some extent, that still is the case; but also to look at overall the antibody levels to not only Sars-COV2, the viruses that cause COVID-19, but these other seasonal coronaviruses,” Dr. Nayak said.

Participants interested would, of course, first give properly documented consent, and a unique component for this research project: most of the study can be done through what’s called “tele-research” visits, via Zoom. Once data is collected, URMC will obtain about 20 microliters of blood, equivalent to about a Q-tip full of blood.

“And with that, we’re able to test for kind of a broad range of antibody responses to different coronaviruses to get an idea of how exposure and age correlate with, if they’ve been infected, symptoms,” Dr. Nayak added.

The study, she adds, will provide critical information for how to best navigate this current pandemic, and potentially other health emergencies in the future.

“It’s through science that we’re going to be able to both respond to this virus, but also the next thing that comes along,” Dr. Nayak said.