Washington COVID-19 Seroprevalence Study - Frequently Asked Questions

Tell me about the study.

This is a statewide survey in Washington State to measure the percent of people infected with COVID-19, also known as prevalence, in the state. During the survey, we will also measure changes in the percent of people who have signs of a previous COVID-19 infection.

How can I join the study?

The study will directly invite selected individuals to take part in the survey. Those who have not been selected cannot join the study. Taking a random sample of the population helps the results of 7,000 people represent of all of Washington State

There are a lot of studies going on now on COVID-19, why is this survey needed?

Many studies measure COVID-19 infection in certain people, such as healthcare workers. This survey chooses participants from among all people in Washington state. It will describe COVID-19 infection among different groups, including by race and ethnic groups.

How will you measure this?

We will measure the percent of people who had COVID-19 by looking at their immune system response. This response will be measured through the presence of antibodies in the blood of 7,000 randomly chosen individuals who participate. We will collect blood samples over three visits over a few months. On the first visit, we will also measure the percent of people who have COVID-19 at the time of our survey by testing for presence of the virus in the nose.

What are antibodies? For how long do they last? Am I safe from getting COVID-19 again if I have antibodies?

The body makes antibodies within a week or two after an infection, and are one of the ways the body fights back. For COVID-19, we’re not sure how long the antibodies will last. From what we know about other coronaviruses (in the same family as the virus that causes COVID-19), they probably won’t last a lifetime. We’re hoping they’ll last at least a year or two, and provide some defense against the virus. However, scientists are still learning how long COVID-19 antibodies are present after infection and whether they protect against this new coronavirus. We hope our survey helps answer some of these questions!

Why can’t you count the number of positive tests in the state to know how many people were infected with COVID-19?

Testing data can guide doctors, scientists, and leaders. But they only count people who were referred for testing by a healthcare provider or who have gotten themselves tested. These counts miss people who were unable to get tested or who did not go to get a test because they did not think they had COVID-19. Also, most testing centers provide tests which look at whether the virus is present in the nose or throat. This is called active infection and will miss those who had COVID-19 before. We will measure people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past.

When will the study start?

We hope to begin collecting data in August, 2020.

Where can I get tested if I think I might have COVID-19?

For more on testing, including where to get tested in your county, visit the Washington State Department of Health’s website: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020COVID19/TestingforCOVID19.

You may also consult your local healthcare provider.