UArizona Partnership with State of Arizona Begins Providing COVID-19 Antibody Tests
Apr. 30, 2020
A test developed by UArizona Health Sciences will screen 250,000 health care workers and first responders for immunity to the novel coronavirus.
University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins, MD, became one of the first of 4,500 people to have their blood drawn over the next several days for a COVID-19 antibody test that was produced in a UArizona Health Sciences laboratory.
His blood draw on April 30, followed by a press conference where he announced classes will resume in a modified manner on campus in the fall, took place at one of six sites around Tucson where health care workers, first responders and a segment of the general population will have their blood drawn to determine who has developed antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Dr. Robbins commended the achievements of UArizona researchers and Health Sciences leadership in the battle against the novel coronavirus, including the production of thousands of sample collection kits, development of respirator masks and low-cost ventilator prototypes, and a variety of other initiatives and programs, including the antibody test itself.
Multiple teams at Health Sciences are working behind the scenes to provide antibody tests to health care workers and first responders across Arizona.
In all, 3,000 of these essential frontline workers in Pima County will be tested over the next several days as the first phase of a UArizona-State of Arizona partnership. The tests will lay the foundation for successful implementation of testing for more than 250,000 health care workers and first responders throughout Arizona. The state is providing $3.5 million to that end.
Using separate funding, about 1,500 members of the general public in Pima County, including university students currently residing on campus or in the county, also will be tested to provide a measure of comparison to the health care worker and first responder groups.
Testing will expand to other health care workers and first responders across the state on May 7.
The university also will provide antibody blood testing for the remaining majority of its 45,000 students and 15,000 employees with separate funding. Plans for that testing are still being finalized.
The tests will enable the University to have a sense of the virus’s impact and spread in the university community, Dr. Robbins said at the press conference.
“We are working with local and national experts to create best-in-class strategies to reopen the campus,” Dr. Robbins said. "Our plan is to test, trace and treat to present our campus community a flexible and adaptive teaching and learning environment.”
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