DETROIT – Beaumont Health is launching a large new study to test for coronavirus (COVID-19) antibodies.
It will test the blood of employees, affiliates and some inpatients to try and determine who has been exposed to the virus and what that could mean going forward.
Dr. Matthew Sims is the director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont.
“We want to find out how many people who’ve gotten this are completely asymptomatic,” Sims said. "The estimates have been 25 to 50 percent.
That’s just one of the goals of the study.
“Once you have these antibodies, are you immune? There’s been a lot of talk about using this as a way to help people get back to work,” Sims said.
Starting Tuesday researchers will also test some inpatients from all eight Beaumont facilities. The testing could help identify people with high antibody levels. They could potentially serve as plasma donors to help treat others.
Researchers also hope to learn more about how the coronavirus is transmitted and how long immunity might last.
“One of the biggest things we want to achieve in doing this is we want to give peace of mind to those people who are fighting on the frontlines of this everyday. To know that maybe they have antibodies that are protecting them. to know that if they’ve been in and out of every room and have not developed antibodies. That what they’re doing is working. They’re not being exposed to the virus and they’re not getting sick,” Sims said.
The antibody test is not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the FDA has given emergency use authorization for research purposes.
The Beaumont study is being supported by more than $3 million in philanthropic donations.