COVID-19 Antibody Study in Grocery stores

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Day 268: Stay Safe Minnesota

The University of Minnesota is studying COVID-19 antibodies in grocery store workers to better understand how widespread infection is in the state.

In the Star Tribune, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jeremy Olson writes that the University of Minnesota has started a project to study COVID-19 antibodies in grocery store workers to better understand the the virus spread in the state. The U’s study aims to understand and “help solve vexing questions about the true spread of the infectious disease and guide state strategies to slow it down before the vaccine is broadly available”.

According to Olson reporting, Prof. Craig Hedberg from public health “is recruiting 1,000 grocers from across Minnesota to mail self-collected blood samples to see if they contain antibodies in response to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19′. Prof Hedberg anticipates to get some clues on the virus spread based on the patterns in the positive results by worker type and geographic location.

“Understanding patterns of community spread and understanding what prevention measures seem to be effective at helping to limit that spread are going to remain important for the next months and probably the next couple years.”

Prof. Craig Hedberg (from Star Tribune)

Quoting Ryan Demmer, an epidemiology researcher at the U School of Public Health, Olson writes “preliminary results of antibody testing during the Thanksgiving week of nearly 500 Twin Cities health care workers found a positivity rate of only 8.5%”.

We need to get a sense of where we are at and get a sense of where the population is at heading toward herd immunity.

Dr Ryan Demmer (source: Star Tribune)

Last summer, Minnesota partnering with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had conducted a antibody testing project with surveys and testing in 180 sites across the states

engaged in perhaps the most ambitious effort this summer, partnering with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct surveys and testing in 180 sites across the state. The project terminated early without results because of the reported claims of harassment and intimidation in some communities.

Prof Hedberg told Olson, “Grocery workers have shown early interest in the latest antibody study, which could offer new insights if positive tests are more common in certain parts of the state or among certain types of workers. The goal is to complete recruitment and send out kits for home blood-sample collection this month.”

“Antibody test results won’t impact the state’s ongoing vaccination strategy, or priority list for who should receive the limited initial doses of the first federally approved COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer,” writes Olson in the Tribune.

Coronavirus Pandemic Watch

According to the MDH latest tally (as of Dec 20, 11 a.m.) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 397,319 (out of 5,199,011 tested) with 4,850 deaths. According to Johns Hopkins database (as of Dec 20, 2:27 p.m.) there are 17,805,599 confirmed covid19 infection with 317,387 deaths. Globally the covid19 virus has infected 76,694,601 with 1,691,024 deaths.