Maryland Department of Health launches COVID-19 antibody study

Posted at 12:19 PM, Aug 13, 2020

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) announced its collaboration with 13 hospitals in the state to conduct an antibody (serology) study to determine how many Marylanders have been exposed to COVID-19.

More than 6,000 people will be tested in the initial phase.

Serology tests indicate whether people have had a previous infection by looking for antibodies in their blood. Serology testing is not diagnostic like a PCR test to determine whether a person has an active COVID-19 infection.

The serology test uses a blood sample to look for antibodies made in response to COVID-19, rather than looking for the virus itself.

The MDH study is part of an ongoing serology testing strategy to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 based on scientific data to guide state and local policies to ensure the health and safety of Marylanders.

Additional testing will take place based on lessons learned and statistical gaps identified in the initial survey.

Hospitals participating in the study are representative of the state’s geography and expected levels of infection, based on confirmed COVID-19 cases and patients visiting emergency departments. Participating hospitals include:

  • UMPC Western Maryland
  • Carroll County Hospital
  • UM Shore Medical Center at Easton
  • Peninsula Regional
  • Frederick Memorial
  • Anne Arundel Medical Center
  • MedStar Franklin Square
  • Johns Hopkins Health System
  • Howard General Hospital
  • Holy Cross Hospital
  • Shady Grove Adventist
  • UM Prince George’s Hospital Center
  • MedStar Southern Maryland

The MDH laboratory will process samples from patients who have their blood drawn during routine clinical care at the hospitals’ emergency departments/emergency rooms.

Aggregate results will be reported back to the hospitals for their surge planning and community health efforts.