UW Medicine tests staff, looking for clues to COVID antibodies

VIDEO: UW Medicine tests staff, looking for clues to COVID antibodies

SEATTLE — UW Medicine is nearly done testing all employees for COVID-19 antibodies. Researchers are hoping to learn information that can help the greater community. With 28,000 employees, the pool of test results from UW Medicine represents a small city. The testing was voluntary for employees.

So far researchers have found that the rates of positive tests for employees are lower than those of the community. They say precautions, including proper use of personal protective equipment, are working.

There are still many unknowns when it comes to COVID-19.

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“Does an antibody equate to immunity to the virus? That’s not so clear. We know that it’s an important part of the immune response, but it’s not the whole immune response,” said Dr. Vicky Fang, Medical Director of UW Medicine Primary Care and Population Health.

Researchers are also studying other kinds of coronaviruses to see what they can learn.

“If you look at other coronaviruses, antibodies tend to be produced rapidly and they tend to present for several years and then wane and immunity tends to wane for coronaviruses. Whether or not that will be true for covid19, there just hasn’t been enough time to tell,” explained Dr. Fang.