NEWS | May 6, 2020

Update on SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing for select UC Davis Health employees

As part of a study on antibody presence in people exposed to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, UC Davis Health is offering a blood test that can identify antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The UC Davis Health serology test exhibits very high sensitivity and specificity, which are measures of accuracy. While the serology test is capable of detecting the presence of antibodies in the blood, it cannot differentiate against the neutralizing antibodies that may confer immunity to the virus. (At present, no FDA approved tests exist for this purpose.) Currently, the test is available by invitation only, with plans underway to make the test more broadly available to additional employees.

The antibody testing is part of a study to investigate if someone was exposed or infected with the virus in the past. It does not show if the person has current or future immunity to COVID-19. People who get the antibody test also have the option of getting a standard nasopharyngeal PCR test for COVID-19.

This longitudinal study will include follow-up surveys and laboratory testing over a six to 12 month period. The study will estimate the risk of new COVID-19 infection over time in different work settings and will determine the natural history of antibody response over time. Employees who become symptomatic during the study period will be asked to have additional testing.

The research team is currently enrolling a limited number of employee volunteer subjects who:
• previously tested positive with PCR testing, or
• have a greater risk of work exposure to COVID-19, such as ED and ICU physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists.

Enrollment for this first group will be by invitation only based on occupational risk.

The next phase of recruitment will include UC Davis Health employees who have taken care of suspected and known positive COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Then the study will open to all other UC Davis Health employees who volunteer to participate. Further information will be available when the study opens to other health care workers. Serology testing for patients is not yet available.

The results of this test should not affect current recommendations for safe clinical practice at UC Davis Health.

Employees who are interested in learning more about antibody testing outside of the research study can email hs-publicaffairs@ucdavis.edu and be placed upon a list for later notifications when that testing becomes available.