Since COVID-19 patients can either be critically ill or show no symptoms at all, Microsoft has launched a study with the Seattle-based biotech Adaptive Biotechnologies to better understand why the coronavirus affects people in different ways. 

These two companies are in need of 1,000 volunteers for a virtual study wherein eligible participants have to be located in specific areas in the US, and must have been exposed to, infected with, or recovered from COVID-19. They are focusing more on T-cell responses (which are a critical element of the body’s immune response), since T cells help fight the virus, and long-lasting cells can help build immunity to future infections. 

Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies are hoping that their research can build a “third pillar” of COVID-19 testing focused on T cells, according to Adaptive Biotechnologies’ Chief Medical Officer Lance Baldo. 

Their study is open to people living within 60 miles of 23 different metro areas across the US, and to date havealready enrolled more than 100 people across the three eligible groups of exposed, infected, and recovered people. Those who meet these criteria can enroll by filling out a questionnaire, and if selected, a phlebotomist will proceed to conduct a throat or nasal swab, and draw blood samples. 

The two companies are offering $50 gift cards to those who complete the initial study, while participants who complete all five blood draws could earn $250 in gift cards. 

While the incentives are an added bonus for the volunteers, Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies believe that the research study is essential and could help humanity understand- and even beat the coronavirus. Both companies have pledged to make the data and findings freely available. 

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