Coronavirus Chicago: Antibody study preliminary results from Northwestern University, 20% of Chicagoans carry COVID-19 bodies

CHICAGO (WLS) – While COVID testing has become more widespread than it was a few months ago, it is still not enough to portray an accurate picture of how many people have been exposed to the virus.Preliminary results from a Northwestern University blood test study showed 20% of Chicagoans carry antibodies to coronovirus.

The director of genetic medicine at Northwestern School of Medicine, Drs. Elizabeth McNally said, “Most of the people we’re dealing with have no symptoms, if they do, only mild symptoms.”Northwestern took blood samples from residents in 10 Chicago zip codes. Neighborhoods were divided into pairs with higher COVID-19 cases in a few more lower cases.

“There are varying rates of COVID infection, but the rate of infection was not very different based on antibody tests,” said researcher Thomas McDade, PhD-Northwestern University.

The 20% rate was consistent with tests being performed on every zip code as well as Northwestern Medical School workers.

“We do what we think means that people are at a much higher risk than we know about it,” McKinley said.

Researchers do not know if people had enough of the positive virus to pass on to other people.

The simple home blood prick test being used for this study is more sensitive and accurate than commercial antibody tests developed months ago using very sensitive COVID patients.

“It was important to have this test that works for the lower levels of antibodies that we see in the community,” McNeely said.

Northwestern is in the process of expanding the study to include all Chicago ZIP codes, with the goal being to keep 10,000 participants and keep them in the study longer to determine how long antibodies last.

McDade said, “The $ 64,000 dollar question is for people who have been exposed that there was not a clinical case of the disease, would they protect?”

Teachers said that it is important to understand antibody safety until a vaccine is widely available.

Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All rights reserved.