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medical team in PPE
UNC mobile COVID-19 testing team including David Wohl, far left, and Michael Herce, far right.


A team of investigators from UNC’s Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases has been awarded $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a two-year implementation science study to scale up COVID-19 testing in North Carolina.

The researchers will examine the impact of a COVID screening program that uses approaches adapted from HIV testing developed in sub-Saharan Africa, namely to shift testing from medical providers to non-medical staff such as community health workers and peer educators. The program will also support more effective contact tracing and testing of contacts, and linkages of people with COVID-19 to medical monitoring and social support services.

“We want to improve access to testing for underserved rural and urban communities being missed by current testing approaches, but who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” says Michael Herce, MD, MPH, MSc, a co-principal investigator along with David Wohl, MD. “We’ll also generate new insights into a promising community-based implementation strategy that can be leveraged to enhance the ongoing response to this pandemic, including the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines once they are available.”

Watch: Michael Herce encourages LatinX community to participate in clinical trials

Herce and Wohl helped catalyze the formation of a diverse consortium that includes the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and community partners Piedmont Health, the Hispanic Liaison of Chatham County, and the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health through its Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations program, or RADx-UP.

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Covid-19 testing photo gallery: Click photos for larger view