Infant Saliva Samples to be Used to Collect New Data Surrounding COVID-19 Transmission Theories

Dr. Schleiss reviews data with and Lulua Webo (left) and Claudia Fernandez-Alarcorn (center). (Photo taken in 2019)

A study at the University of Minnesota Medical School, supported by a CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grant will utilize saliva samples from newborns previously collected by Dr. Mark Schleiss to study transmission theories surrounding COVID-19. Dr. Schleiss, MD, Professor for the Department of Pediatrics and a faculty member for the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, has been collecting saliva samples from newborns for years to study cytomegalovirus (CMV), a disease that commonly causes birth defects in newborns. 

Dr. Schleiss and colleagues hope that studying these samples will address the question of whether pregnant mothers can transmit COVID-19 to infants while in the womb. Though a difficult question to answer, this could provide further insight into COVID-19 transmission routes and could help the medical community to determine whether COVID-19 arrived in Minnesota earlier than March. 

By August, Dr. Schleiss plans to have all samples tested. He hopes his findings will address questions surrounding COVID-19 and will contribute to the larger issue surrounding COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. To learn more about Dr. Schleiss’s groundbreaking research, follow this link.


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