Cleveland - Testing plays a crucial role in gathering the information needed to move forward during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Medical leaders indicate testing for the presence of antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) will help reveal the reach of the disease.
University Hospitals will soon begin testing frontline caregivers and first responders for these antibodies. These groups are the most at-risk due to their direct contact with patients in the hospital setting and in the community.
“Our commitment to the health and safety of our caregivers, including our EMS and public safety community, has been unwavering,” said Dr. Eric Beck, Chief Operating Officer at University Hospitals. “Offering this antibody testing to this at-risk population is another way we can help keep them informed and empowered to continue to care for our community.”
UH will test frontline caregivers and employee and first-responder volunteers from the following categories:
- Had no symptoms of COVID-19 and weren’t tested for the disease
- Had symptoms of COVID-19 and weren’t tested for the disease
- Tested negative for COVID-19
- Tested positive for COVID-19
Using a high-quality test method to determine caregivers’ antibody status “will provide knowledge of the breadth of undiagnosed disease in Northeast Ohio and specifically in our frontline critical workforce who has been so dedicated to caring for patients at UH and in the community,” said Dr. Christine Schmotzer, Chief of the Division of Clinical Pathology at University Hospitals. “This is valuable information as our state returns healthcare and business operations to normal.”
Information gained from antibody testing at UH will be used for epidemiologic awareness to determine how much of our population of essential employees has been infected. Additionally, this information will be used to better understand the test methods themselves. This information will not be used to clear people to return to work or for modifications in distribution of personal protective equipment.
The presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies means that a person was infected with COVID-19 at some point in the past, whereas the molecular diagnostic testing that has been conducted up to this point tests to see if a person is currently infected with the virus at that time.
Currently, it’s not known if the presence of antibodies means a person is immune to COVID-19 or if a person can’t get re-infected with COVID-19 within the same season. If a person tests negative for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, it doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t been infected with COVID-19, because some peoples’ bodies don’t amount enough of an immune response to be detected.
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