The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has begun its newly developed antibody testing in an effort to determine the reach of the COVID-19 infection in Arkansas. This data is intended to then inform the decisions of policymakers.
“It will be critical for policymakers to estimate how many Arkansans have been previously infected as they consider reopening schools, allowing mass gatherings, and keeping workplaces safe,” Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA and UAMS chancellor, said in a statement.
The research program will collect blood samples from more than 7,000 Arkansas adults and children through October. A robotic-assisted immunoassay machine will enable processing of 2,500 samples each day for workplace, school and other community settings. This machine will be available in early August, which will increase the amount of samples being processed, whereas currently UAMS researchers are hand processing only up to 180 samples per day.
“As much as we may want to, we know we can’t test everyone with the antibody test right now, but we can design a program that will give us an estimate of how many Arkansans have had COVID-19,” Laura James, M.D. and director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute, said.
The research team is comprised of leaders from across UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, including members of the UAMS College of Public Health.