AU Health partnering with Columbia Co. for COVID-19 antibody testing, research

Columbia County


(WJBF) – A number of Columbia County employees will reportedly be some of the first in the area to receive an antibody test as part of a partnership between the county commission and Augusta University Health.

The tests will be given to volunteers as part of a research study led by Dr. Jose Vazquez, Chief of the Section of Infectious Disease at the Medical College of Georgia. They’re working to determine how many county employees have previously been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 and have developed antibodies against it.

“We all want to answer a question: Was the unusual respiratory illness that we experienced this fall and winter actually COVID-19?” said Dr. Phillip Coule, vice president and chief medical officer at AU Health. “By studying the SARS-CoV-2 antibodies of emergency services workers and school teachers, we should be able to get a good indication of how many people have already had COVID-19.”

Last week, AU Health announced they would be offering a new antibody test to inpatients with a goal to make it more widely available after.

“It is entirely possible that the unusual respiratory season we had last year was COVID-19 or that many more people have had the disease than we previously thought,” Vazquez said. “We know that young people tend to have minimal symptoms and come into close contact with teachers. Testing the teachers will give us an idea of exposure from their students.”


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