July 22, 2020 / Modified jul 23, 2020 10:59 a.m.

UA expands antibody test

Participants can also opt in to yearlong immunity study.

Antibody test vial A photo accompanying a UANews release about the university's antibody testing effort in partnership with the state.
Kris Hanning/University of Arizona Health Sciences

Thousands of Arizonans who work in education, child care and other fields can now get a COVID-19 antibody test from the University of Arizona. A small portion of those people will also be part of a long-term immunity study.

The free antibody test, originally targeted toward first responders and health care professionals, is now available to people in fifteen areas of work involving potential exposure to the virus. Those include educators, child care workers, agriculture, grocery and food service workers, hospitality employees, solid waste collection workers, transportation services workers and members of the National Guard.

People who sign up for the test can also opt into a yearlong immunity study through the UA's College of Public Health.

The immunity study is called AZ HEROES, an acronym for Arizona Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Other Essential Workers Surveillance.

Dr. Jeff Burgess is heading the study, which will track the immune systems of 4,000 people for a year. "It involves getting three antibody tests — so, blood tests — over the period of one year and also doing weekly nasal swabs to look for acute infection," Burgess said.

Burgess says because the novel coronavirus is so new, doctors don't know how much protection people get from the antibodies they make after recovering from COVID-19, or how long that protection lasts. The immunity study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control, aims to answer some of those questions.

For more information about the AZ HEROES immunity study, call the study team at 520-848-4026, or email AZHeroes@arizona.edu.

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