Beaumont will launch country's largest study testing COVID-19 antibodies

Posted at 10:23 AM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 18:24:05-04

(WXYZ) — Beaumont Health announced it was launching the country's largest study on COVID-19 antibodies which will help identify plasma donors and better understand the disease.

The Beaumont Health Research Institute is hoping the serological study will answer many questions surrounding the spread of coronavirus and help treat patients who have it.

Serological blood testing detects antibodies that the body creates to help fight an infection. In the case of COVID-19, antibodies may develop as soon as 3-6 days after infection. Even after the recovery, the antibodies remain and offer immunity.

The CDC reports that as many as 25-50% of patients may not show symptoms, however they could spread the disease to others. Beaumont's study will start helping identify the number of people who have COVID-19 antibodies but never reported symptoms.

Questions to be answered by the Beaumont study include:
· How susceptible are health care workers to acquiring COVID-19?
· What is the relationship between antibody levels to symptoms or the severity of the disease?
· Does our antibody response increase or decrease over time and how long will it last?
· Will COVID-19 antibodies protect you from a new COVID-19 infection?

“In addition to answering key questions on infection spread and the percentage of total asymptomatic cases in a community, we intend to relieve anxiety through a better understanding of the spread of the infection across Beaumont Health,” Beaumont Health Vice President for Research and Director of the Beaumont Research Institute Richard Kennedy, Ph.D., said.

Long term, the study aims to:

  • Determine how serological testing can supplement swab-based molecular testing which looks for evidence of active infection
  • Identify individuals with high antibody levels as potential donors for plasma transfusions to treat others infected with COVID-19
  • Prioritize people for future vaccinations
  • Help people get back to work by establishing testing protocols and a better understanding of COVID-19 immunity

Beaumont will use two PerkinElmer, Inc. EUROLabWorkstations and EUROIMMUN Anti-SARS-CoV-2 ELISA testing kits which recently received CE marking in Europe. The FDA has authorized hospital labs to self-validate their own COVID-19 serological tests. This has already been completed under the direction of Beaumont Health immunologist Dr. Gabriel Maine.

After initial results are obtained from Beaumont patients and staff, the testing capability will be made available to other area hospital systems as needed.

“I believe having antibodies against COVID-19 will protect people from getting infected again and so do many other physicians. In Germany, there is a plan to give people ‘immunity passports’ if they can show they have antibodies to help them get back to work. This study will help prove that antibodies protect those who have them. It is our hope that this study provides a template for others to conduct similar research that will collectively clarify many unknowns of COVID-19,” Dr. Sims said.

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