HealthPartners Institute is coordinating many research and education initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, we quickly geared up to provide the infrastructure and support for COVID-19 research. We established a research rapid response team with our Institutional Review Board and Critical Care Research Center. This helped us quickly and safely get critical COVID-19 studies in place.
Our Office of Health Professional Education organized biweekly COVID-19 case studies, creating a forum for discussion and learning about COVID-19 patients within our care system. They also developed a curriculum for clinicians to prepare for the surge of incoming patients. These initiatives have been critical to learning and adapting to the evolving nature of the pandemic.
Institute researchers, partnering with Oxford University and AstraZeneca, are enrolling 1,500 people in a randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind study of a COVID-19 vaccine. We are the only health system in Minnesota and one of about 100 sites in the U.S., Peru and Chile involved in the clinical trial. Researchers are particularly interested in enrolling those at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, such as health care workers, first-responders and food service workers; those with health conditions that make them more likely to develop severe forms of COVID-19; and people of color, as emerging data have shown they are experiencing higher rates of infection and poorer outcomes. Learn more | Read press release
Evaluating COVID-19 vaccine safety for pregnant women and infants
Clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have been limited to non-pregnant adults, leaving the potential risks to pregnant women largely unknown. Once a vaccine is licensed, health care workers and other frontline and essential workers will likely be targeted for vaccination. This group will include women of reproductive age and inadvertent exposures to a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy may occur. Our research includes a 3-year observational study to evaluate risks for fetal death, and a 5-year observational study to evaluate maternal, birth and infant outcomes following COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.
Study of injectable emulsion in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia
Evidence suggests that pro-inflammatory cytokines from immune cells, including those elevated by SARS-CoV-2 infection, may lead to the severe lung injury that commonly causes death in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. An intravenous drug called Auxora, a calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channel inhibitor, potently blocks the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The FDA has granted fast-track approval to study this drug based on its potential for protecting the lungs from COVID-19 pneumonia related injury. Learn more.
Convalescent plasma for treating patients with COVID-19
This program provides access to convalescent plasma for patients in acute care facilities infected with SARS-CoV-2 who have severe or life threatening COVID-19, or who are at high risk of progression to severe or life threatening disease. Participants will receive a transfusion of convalescent plasma from an individual who has recovered from documented infection with SARS-CoV-2.
Evaluating the efficacy and safety of otilimab IV in patients with severe pulmonary COVID-19 related disease
This study will compare the efficacy of otilimab 90mg IV versus a placebo. Otilimab is currently in phase 3 development for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and has not been previously tested in patients with severe pulmonary COVID-19 related disease. This study aims to show that otilimab improves the respiratory status of patients with severe COVID-19 related pulmonary disease compared to standard of care.
COVID-19 clinical resources
Our Office of Health Professional Education developed online COVID-19 resources for primary care ambulatory clinicians, medical specialty clinicians, surgeons and community senior care clinicians. Their objective is to provide key updates to clinicians who may be redeployed to care for hospitalized, emergency department and critical care patients during the pandemic.
Studying the mental health of health care workers during the COVID-19 outbreak
This study seeks to learn which aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak cause the most stress among health care workers (HCWs), what mental health symptoms it causes and to what severity, and what recommendations HCWs have for support from HealthPartners.
Study of VERU-111 for the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome in patients at high risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
The study aims to determine if taking VERU-111, which contains anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, early during the course of COVID-19 can prevent patients from developing ARDS and the need for additional oxygen support.
COVID-19 convalescent plasma in outpatients (C3PO)
Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 have anti-SARS-CoV antibodies in their blood that may provide immunity to the virus. These antibodies remain in the blood plasma and can be donated to use for other patients suffering from the disease. This plasma is referred to as convalescent plasma, and can be given to patients who arrive in the emergency department with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 but are not sick enough to be admitted. The hope it that these patients will return home, recover and not need to be admitted to the hospital in the future.
COVID-19 case conferences
Hundreds of clinicians and trainees have attended HealthPartners’ COVID-19 case conference sessions. Case presentations include recent or current patients from our care system and provide up-to-date education on approaches to care and workflows within our system. The monthly meetings are held remotely, and then recorded and archived to allow for ongoing information sharing and reference.
A list of our publications about COVID-19 related research and education can be found on our Knowledge Exchange site.
Find out more about our work related to COVID-19, such as the public health and economic benefits of wearing masks, and how the pandemic has negatively impacted childhood vaccinations, in our news releases.