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UVA Study Finds Small Percentage of Virginians Tested Have COVID-19 Antibodies

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 8/5/2020 Julie Carey
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A new study from the University of Virginia estimates that very few Virginians have COVID-19 antibodies.

Researchers said that 2.4% of the 5,000 blood samples they examined had antibodies.

Dr. Eric Houpt, the head of the university's infectious diseases division, led the study and said its purpose was to get a better picture of how many people were infected with the virus that were unknown to health officials.

Samples were taken from patients who came into outpatient clinics for regular appointments.

While only 2.4% of the total number of people tested had coronavirus antibodies, researchers say 4% of Northern Virginians had antibodies and 14% of Latinos tested had antibodies.

But when it comes to the general population, Houpt says the takeaway on COVID-19 exposure is clear.

"That means that about 97 or so percent have not [been exposed] and are still no immunity and are fully susceptible to the infection," Houpt said.

The research revealed another key finding — 60% of those who had antibodies were asymptomatic and they never knew they’d been infected.

"There is a lot of asymptomatic infection out there," Houpt said.

The Virginia Department of Health will use the findings to further guide it’s coronavirus response.

"We need to be practicing all the precautions for a long way into the future," Houpt said. "There's still a lot circulating, but at the same time there's a lot of susceptible individuals."

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