King County Health launches new coronavirus antibody study to help understand infection rate and spread –


King County Public Health announced it will soon launch a new coronavirus antibody study to help answer questions like how many have been infected with COVID-19; who is more likely to be infected and how severe are symptoms; are there common risk factors that can be mitigated.

For the new study about 5,000 randomly selected King County households will receive postcards in early August asking them to volunteer to have a blood drop taken for the seroprevalence study.

Blood samples will be analyzed for the presence of coronavirus antibodies, the virus that causes COVID-19. The antibody test determines if the person already had COVID-19 and thus, built up antibodies.

Participants will also answer a confidential questionnaire that will help understand the spread and severity of disease. Taken together, King County Health says the study information will ultimately help save lives.

How Antibody Testing will Work

In the first phase of the study, about 5000 households will receive postcard invitations; visit a website and answer initial screening questions. Only about 800 households, though, will be tested.

King County Health said the goal is to have participants reflect the diversity of the county, as well as groups that have had more illnesses and financial impacts from COVID-19.

For households that are selected, one representative will answer a few additional questions about household residents and schedule an appointment to either go in for testing or for a mobile testing team to come to their neighborhood.

The Public Health study team will follow up with each participating household member to complete their own survey, asking about their recent activities, and if they have had symptoms of COVID-19.

Testing will run through mid-August 2020.

In the study’s second phase, targeted outreach to communities of color will be conducted. Public Health said this is to provide additional information about communities burdened with the most disproportionate impact from COVID-19, due to the cumulative practices and institutional systems of racism.

Participants will receive their results. A positive test means that they were infected with COVID-19. A positive result may also mean there is some ability to fight off future infections from COVID-19, but it is not known with certainty if there is protection or how long it might last.

King County Health said study results will shed more light on several important questions about COVID-19, including:

  • The extent of people infected in King County, including those with mild or no symptoms
  • Why people chose not to get tested if they did have symptoms
  • How many mild cases of COVID were never tested and detected
  • If there are patterns in risk factors for infection

Preliminary study results should be ready by September. The antibody study funded by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

“We don’t know the full extent of people infected with COVID-19 locally because many have mild symptoms or none at all,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “This study is designed to give us a better understanding of COVID-19 transmission spread, which will inform our response efforts to slow the spread of disease in our community.”