Frequently asked questions and more information about the Seattle Flu Alliance, the Seattle Flu Study, and the Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network.

The mission of the Seattle Flu Alliance is to understand how respiratory viruses spread and evolve, sharing that knowledge to prevent illness and death.

We envision our research contributing to healthier communities that are protected from the threat of new and evolving respiratory diseases.

The Seattle Flu Alliance is composed of local researchers from The Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine, UW Medicine, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s, and the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health. Building off the success of the Seattle Flu Study, the Seattle Flu Alliance reflects an expansion of research into the ways viruses like COVID-19 and the flu are detected, monitored, and controlled.

By learning more about how respiratory viruses are transmitted, we can detect them earlier and act quickly to prevent further spread. The data provided by these studies can inform planning for future epidemics and pandemics and provide public health agencies and policymakers with tools to take effective action to inform and protect the public.

The Seattle Flu Study was a collaborative effort funded by Gates Ventures and led by The Brotman Baty Institute, UW Medicine, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and Seattle Children’s. The Seattle Flu Study’s mission was to transform how epidemic and pandemic outbreaks are detected, monitored, and controlled.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seattle Flu Study pivoted to detect and sequence SARS-CoV-2 in the Seattle area. The Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) became the country’s first community surveillance program for COVID-19. SCAN filled a critical gap in COVID-19 testing and provided crucial data on how the virus was spreading and changing. Having accomplished these goals, SCAN ended active recruitment on July 31, 2022. Now concluding its fourth year, the Seattle Flu Study’s original research aims have been achieved.

Learn more about the Seattle Flu Study and SCAN.

The Seattle Flu Study has been internationally recognized as a model for surveillance of respiratory pathogens and pilot interventions to address emerging pandemics. From 2018-2022, the Seattle Flu Study and SCAN teams:

  • Sequenced 2,300 flu genomes over three years
  • Collected 69,900 COVID-19 tests
  • Conducted 26% of all SARS-CoV-2 testing in King County during the first months of the pandemic
  • Through the sequencing of approximately 9,420 genomes, the Seattle Flu Study and SCAN provided insights into community transmission and new variants
  • Provided education and outreach to the public about COVID-19
  • Informed SARS-CoV-2 testing platforms in California and Massachusetts

The Seattle Flu Study and SCAN provided insights into effective planning and response to emerging disease threats. These include:

  • Building collaborative relationships across health agencies, research institutions, and the private sector
  • Developing flexible regulatory policies to facilitate research studies and clinical testing in an ethical manner
  • Creating effective frameworks for epidemic and pandemic response

The Seattle Flu Alliance has widened its scope to include new organizations and initiatives studying respiratory pathogens. The Seattle Flu Alliance will support new studies and research projects aimed at learning how respiratory viruses are detected, monitored, and controlled.

These projects currently include:

  • The CASCADIA Study, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The Husky Coronavirus Testing project, funded by University of Washington
  • Symptoms Survey, a partnership with Outbreaks Near Me
  • Antibody and Immunity Research Study, a partnership with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
  • The Howard Hughes Medical Institute COVID-19 Collaboration Initiative, funded by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

For more information, see here.

All studies currently enrolling participants can be found on the Seattleflu.org home page. If you think you might qualify for one of the studies, or are interested in learning more about enrollment criteria please visit the study’s page for additional details.

There are several studies open to people in the Pacific Northwest. If you need help identifying which study is right for you, please email us at hello@seattleflu.org.

The exact process depends on which study you qualify for, but it’s always easy and safe—and you can take part without leaving home. Once you’re in a study, you’ll typically be asked to answer simple survey questions to qualify or for as long as the study lasts (up to 8 months.)

If you develop symptoms of a respiratory illness, you may be asked to take an at-home test. If you test positive for COVID-19, a researcher or public health official will contact you.

You will be able to access your test results if you take part in a study and you are tested for COVID-19. Visit seattleflu.org/results to access your results. Please note that your test results should not be treated as a replacement for medical care or for a diagnostic test from a medical provider.

No. Your privacy is extremely important to us. Only relevant study teams will have access to personal information you provide for the study.

No data directly linked to you will ever be made publicly available. If you take a test, you’ll be given a personal barcode to protect access to your results. All study information will be stored in a secure, confidential manner.

No, participating in any research study will not affect your health insurance. All information collected remains confidential, and will not be shared with your healthcare providers or insurance companies unless you choose to share that information with a provider on your own.

No, definitely not! There is no risk that participating in these studies will get you sick.

Storage and future use of samples may vary by study. Please reach out to the relevant study email or phone number provided for more information.

Thank you for asking! Here are some tips:

  • Flu: The most effective way to stop the spread of flu is for everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu vaccination each year. Vaccines are recommended throughout flu season and into the spring; they are even more important when COVID-19 is circulating
  • COVID-19: Check the CDC recommendations page for the latest information about how to protect yourself and others.

Another way you can be involved in stopping the spread of these diseases is to join local research studies, which will help researchers understand how the flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses spread in Seattle and how we can stop outbreaks sooner. All studies currently enrolling participants can be found on the Seattleflu.org home page. If you think you might qualify for one of the studies, or are interested in learning more about enrollment criteria, please visit the study’s webpage for additional details. If you need help identifying which study is right for you, please email us at hello@seattleflu.org.