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Science and Innovations

University Of Arizona Begins Statewide Antibody Testing Program For COVID-19

Kris Hanning/U of A Health Sciences

The University of Arizona is unrolling a statewide program to test 250,000 health care workers and first responders in Arizona for antibodies against COVID-19. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Antibody blood tests look for the body’s immune response after someone has recovered from the disease. Dr. Janko Nikolich is one of the project’s leaders. He says the testing will show how widespread the disease is, and how many people contracted it without showing any symptoms.

"That’s number one," Nikolich says. "Number two, for the population that we are testing, which are frontline healthcare workers and first responders, they’re the people that get in contact with folks who had COVID a lot more than general population."

It’s still unclear if antibodies protect a person against reinfection or how long that protection might last. But Nikolich says research on related viruses and early animal studies show there’s some level of protection, which can offer “peace of mind” to health care workers who test positive.

The state of Arizona provided $3.5 million for the program. Learn more about the program, including how to sign up for a test, here:

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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