MDH is working with 13 hospitals, including Frederick Health Hospital.
Baltimore, Md (KM) The Maryland Department of Health is working with Frederick Health Hospital and 12 other hospitals in the state to conduct a COVID-19 antibody study.
Dennis Shrader, the Chief Operating Officer and Medicaid Director for the Department, says the study will determine how many Marylanders have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. “What we’re after is trying to track at some point how far the disease has spread,” he said.
The Health Department says more than 6,000 patients will be tested in this initial phase. It also says it will not involve diagnostic tests which determine if a patient has the coronavirus. This will only detect if that person has the antibodies to this disease.
Shrader says the tests will involve patients who come into hospital emergency rooms and have their blood drawn. But hospitals don’t use all of the blood they drawn, and some of it is labeled as remnant samples. “Normally, they would throw those remnant samples away. And we’ve asked them to use them so we could get a test for antibodies. And that would then give us some sense of the spread of the disease,” he said.
This information will be used to guide state and local governments in developing local policies to ensure the health and safety of their residents, the Department of Health says in a news release.
Shrader says antibodies are created by the body to fight off viruses which can do harm. “You have an infection in the body. The immune system responds. And that leaves materials in the blood called antibodies and those are measured,” he said.
“The next month to six weeks at those 13 hospitals, we’re hoping to collect 6,000 samples,” says Schrader.
By Kevin McManus