New Houston survey includes going to homes and testing people for COVID-19 antibodies

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, September 4, 2020
Houston starts program to test people for COVID-19 antibodies
Hit play to see what will happen if your home gets selected.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Teams of Houston Health Department staff and Houston Fire Department paramedics are hitting the streets of Houston for an antibody testing survey designed to give health officials a better picture of how COVID-19 has affected the community.

A total of 420 homes have been randomly selected.

Many of them are from hard-hit neighborhoods. Teams will be asking all members of the household to answer questions and give a blood sample.

READ ALSO: Antibody tests show coronavirus rates 10x higher, CDC study finds

The survey will identify people infected in the past with COVID-19 by the presence of antibodies.

"This is not a test of acute infection. This is a test to see if sometime in the past, you were infected [with COVID-19] and that's for us to get an idea, across the community, how many folks were infected and to what degree of antibody response they have," explained Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse. "To move forward, we need to know this information to get an idea about what the virus is doing in our community so we can get ahead of it and control it."

The survey will take pace in two phases.

READ ALSO: FDA approves cheaper, faster saliva-based COVID-19 test

The first phase run from Sept. 8-24, and the second will start in January.

The teams will be seen wearing "Better. Together." T-shirts so they can be easily identified.

"If we knock on your door, I strongly encourage you and your loved ones to participate in this important survey," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "The data you provide by participating will help inform strategies to mitigate the effects of COVID-19."

READ ALSO: Houston mayor on reopenings: Texas 'about to repeat its mistake'

The Houston Health Department, the CDC, Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University's Kinder Institute are all collaborating on the survey.

Noah G. Harding professor of statistics at Rice University Dr. Kathy Ensor is looking forward to seeing the data.

"It's a statistically-valid study," she said. "The sample will not be biased. It should be a good representation of our community. We'll be able to estimate the degree of the disease more broadly. The benefit is really for the greater good."

For more information about the antibody survey, visit the city of Houston's website.

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