All of Us Research Program study offers new evidence of early SARS-CoV-2 infections in U.S.

June 24, 2021

A new antibody testing study examining samples originally collected through the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program found evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in five states earlier than their first cases had initially been reported. 

Researchers analyzed more than 24,000 stored blood samples contributed by program participants across all 50 states between Jan. 2 and March 18, 2020. Researchers detected antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 using two different serology tests in nine participants’ samples. 

When COVID-19 hit the United States, the All of Us Research Program had already been collecting samples for research long before the virus started infecting people. Because of this, the program was uniquely positioned to help learn more about when the virus that causes COVID-19 started appearing around the country.

Based on this new study, the Program found that the virus was present in the U.S. as far back as December 2019, before doctors and scientists were aware. The positive samples detected came as early as Jan. 7, 2020 from participants in Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Most positive samples were collected prior to the first reported cases in those states, demonstrating the importance of expanding testing as quickly as possible in an epidemic setting.

“This study allows us to uncover more information about the beginning of the U.S. epidemic and highlights the real-world value of longitudinal research in understanding dynamics of emerging diseases like COVID-19,” said Josh Denny, M.D., M.S., chief executive officer of All of Us and an author of the study. “Our participants come from diverse communities across the U.S. and give generously of themselves to drive a wide range of biomedical discoveries, which are vital for informing public health strategies and preparedness.”

The All of Us New York City consortium is housed in Columbia University’s Institute for Genomic Medicine under the guidance of Dr. David Goldstein.

The mission of the All of Us Research Program is to accelerate health research and medical breakthroughs, enabling individualized prevention, treatment, and care for all of us. The program will partner with one million or more people across the United States to build the most diverse biomedical data resource of its kind, to help researchers gain better insights into the biological, environmental, and behavioral factors that influence health.

For those interested in enrolling in the program or learning more, visit