University Hospitals testing frontline workers and first responders for COVID antibodies

Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 3:12 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -University Hospitals has begun a study of their frontline caregivers and first responders to see how many of them test positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

Antibody testing is potentially powerful tool in learning more about COVID-19, how it’s spreading and who it is and isn’t affecting.

“We are trying to determine the status of our employees. We want to know who of our employees have been in contact with the infection and who may be protected from this infection,” said Dr. Elie Saade, Director of Infection Control at UH Cleveland Medical Center.

UH is using a tiered approach, first testing those without symptoms who haven’t been tested for COVID-19, then those who had symptoms but weren’t tested for COVID-19, those who tested negative for COVID-19, then those who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I’m anxious to find out if I was exposed at all to the virus. I’m an infectious disease fellow here, so I’ve been taking care of some COVID positive patients. So I’ve never been symptomatic, but it will be interesting to get the test results and figure out in the next few months what that actually means,” said Dr. Christina Boswell, Infectious Disease Fellow at University Hospitals.

‘We don’t know why some people develop the symptoms and some don’t. This type of study can help us determine that,” said Dr. Saade.

A positive test for the antibodies means that a person was infected with COVID-19 at some point in the past, but currently, it’s not known if that means they are immune or can’t get re-infected the same season.

A negative antibody test doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t been infected with COVID-19, because some peoples’ bodies don’t generate enough of an immune response to be detected.

Dr. Boswell said she would not be concerned if her antibody test came up positive.

“It would just solidify that I might have been exposed at some time, and to show how easy it is to be asymptomatic which is why should be masking, and very conservative and protective of other people. Since I have never had symptoms, it will be pretty interesting to see if I was actually positive,” said Dr. Boswell.

Would you like to know if you HAD COVID-19 in the past? University Hospitals is testing their front line workers and...

Posted by Jen Picciano on Monday, June 29, 2020

Testing is not mandatory to employees, but it is available to the public, so if you want to get tested for the antibodies and contribute to this information gathering, talk to your UH doctor.

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