Testing for coronavirus
Lab technicians test for coronavirus. Courtesy California Department of Public Health

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials confirmed Friday that they will start testing the levels of antibodies in 1,000 randomly selected adults to track the spread of coronavirus.

For the testing of blood serum, known as serological testing, the county is working with the University of Southern California to collect blood samples that show levels of antibodies in a person, and whether that person likely had the virus but showed no symptoms.

The testing could lead to further reducing the coronavirus spread, said Barbara Ferrer, the county director of the Department of Public Health.

“The study does not tell us if people who were infected are now immune to COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “We’re assuming they are, but that will be a separate study to verify … whether people have developed immunities to the virus.”

Ferrer said the testing will also help provide data on how the virus affects different genders, ages and ethnicities.

The DPH will conduct the testing for the next few months, even if the pandemic subsides by then, to accurately reflect the prevalence of the virus.

“Obviously, everybody who has a positive result will be offered additional molecular testing to figure out whether or not this was an infection they had in the past or they’re currently infectious and are able to pass on the infection to others,” Ferrer told reporters Friday morning. “One of the missing pieces in this puzzle is how many people, what percent of our population has already been infected with COVID-19.”

Some private doctors are also offering such tests to their patients.

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