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UArizona begins COVID-19 antibody testing for health care workers, first responders

Posted at 6:26 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 21:26:01-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona is partnering with the state to analyze blood samples to determine who has been exposed and develop antibodies against COVID-19.

The state is providing $3.5 million to test 250,000 health care workers and first responders throughout Arizona.

Associate professor at college of medicine Deepta Bhattacharya said "Our test is essentially a lab-based test that requires a blood draw. But what really helps us really distinguish truly positive from negative people is our ability to put a number on the antibody values and set strict statistical thresholds to make sure that someone who we say is negative is negative and then someone who we say is positive is truly possible."

The first phase of testing will start April 30 in Pima County, which will include 3,000 health care workers and first responders.

RELATED: UArizona making COVID-19 antibody tests for first responders, health care workers

The university will use separate funding to test about 1,500 members of the public in Pima County, including university students currently living on campus or in the county will be tested to provide a measure of comparison to the health care worker and first responder groups.

Plans to provide antibody blood testing for the remaining majority of its 45,000 students and 15,000 employees is still being finalized, according to a press release from UArizona.

The antibody testing for the rest of the state will expand to health care workers and first responders throughout Arizona May 7.

These tests will be used to compare cases in health workers and first responders to those in the general public.