ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — A NIH initiative will fund a new Johns Hopkins center to research COVID-19 immunity as the pandemic continues to affect people of all ages.

The five-year grant will fund more than $2 million a year to the new Johns Hopkins Excellence in Pathogen to support the studies, to start immediately, the immune elements that determine whether people get mild or severe coronavirus after being exposed.

They hope this will lead to more effective treatments and vaccines.

It will be led by Sabra Klein, PhD, professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School, and Andrea Cox, MD, PHD, professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“Our new center’s goal is to combine Johns Hopkins’ world-class expertise in immunology, virology, and biostatistics to map out the complexity of the immune response as it develops after infection—and to understand why that response can differ so greatly depending on age, gender, race, comorbidities such as obesity, and other factors,” Klein said.

The funding comes from an emergency $306 million appropriation by Congress earlier in 2020, set to establish a “Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19” (SeroNet)—serology being the study of antibodies and other immune factors that circulate in the body in response to infection or vaccination.

The Hopkins center will be one of eight across the U.S. It will draw on clinical resources from Hopkins Medicine, including thousands of blood samples taken from COVID-19 patients at all stages of infection and in both hospitalized patients and outpatients.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff

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