September 10, 2020
The Ebola viral outbreak in 2014 and the Zika viral outbreak a year later led to the creation of a new protocol for studying emerging infectious diseases. Known as EPICC (Epidemiology, Immunology and Clinical Characteristics of Emerging Infectious Diseases with Pandemic Potential), the protocol was proactively designed to be adapted to study future emerging infectious diseases in the DoD population in real time.
In early February 2020, the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences recognized the potential significance of the novel coronavirus epidemic in China and activated the EPICC protocol. The existing framework of the study was revised to study the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 as well as COVID-19, the disease associated with it.
Under the leadership of Principle Investigator LTC Charlotte Lanteri, Ph.D. (this role transitioned in July to Dr. Brian Agan), the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program team worked closely with the Uniformed Services University to expedite the launch of the study. To meet the initial projected wave of COVID-19 cases expected to arrive in the United States in March 2020, the EPICC team worked with unprecedented speed.
EPICC initially opened for enrollment on March 20 with a presence at five Military Treatment Facilities. Study activities have since expanded to bring the total to 10 active sites for the protocol. The goals of the study are to describe the epidemiology, immunology, clinical course, and clinical outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Military Health System beneficiaries.
Since its launch in March, EPICC has been recognized as a foundational observational study of COVID-19 in the Department of Defense population. In collaboration with both USU labs and DoD partner labs at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the Naval Medical Research Center, and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the study continues to provide useful research for pressing scientific questions about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
By the end of September, the study had enrolled over 800 participants across seven sites. Information from EPICC is routinely communicated to the Defense Health Agency and other DoD leadership. Initial analyses are underway and the team is preparing the first manuscripts for publication in early FY21.