Augusta University and Columbia County are teaming up to conduct antibody testing and research


EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) — Research suggests educators and emergency services personnel are at higher risk for exposure of COVID-19 because of the different members of the public they interact with every day. The Infectious Diseases Department at Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia is conducting an antibody study to provide information on how to open businesses in Columbia County safely.

“Dr. Coule and I began talking, along with Governor Brian Kemp, and his staff,” said Columbia County Chairman Doug Duncan. “We talked it through and determined we need a study that’s closer to home, something that will resonate with our residents.”

Columbia County is spending $80,000 to fund an antibody testing study. The data collected will determine the number of people who have been infected. County employees and school system workers will be among the first to be tested.

“If we had this virus for a while or it has roamed around through the school systems, that will be important information for us to know in moving forward,” said Dr. Philip Coule. “Also, keeping businesses open safely and profound implications of the school season coming up.

Dr. Coule told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson, testing will show what has happened, and possibly a path moving forward. He says it will give an insight into three options.

“Not a lot of people have antibodies against this,” explained Coule. “There is a middle of the road, and we get a mixed picture. Then there is, just about everyone we test has antibodies.”

He says any of those findings are extremely useful.

“If we don’t get of people with the antibodies, then we know we need to be extremely careful how to move forward in making certain that we are incredibly careful who we expose,” said Dr. Coule.

Antibody testing in Columbia County is expecting to happen soon. AU Health will reach out to the employers in the county to schedule an appointment to collect the data, so you don’t need to do that.
Duncan says he hopes the study will ease people’s fear of the unknown.

“Once we get the right results from the study, it will give residents peace of mind,” said Duncan.

AU Health announced last week it would offer antibody testing to inpatients before making the test more widely available.

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