Knowledge is Power
Antibody Testing for Eligible Participants & their Families in the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio and Ohio Health & Welfare Plans
Below you will find general information about the COVID Antibody testing study. For information and dates specific to your healthcare fund click the button for your plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is COVID-19 and why is it relevant to me?
- COVID-19 is disease caused by a novel “corona” virus (SARS-CoV-2), thought to have first spread from animals to humans in late 2019, likely in Wuhan China.
- COVID-19 is remarkable for its ease of transmission, and its wide-ranging, harmful effects.
- It is causing the most devastating public health crisis in a century, with over 2 million deaths worldwide and over 400,000 deaths in the S., and these numbers are climbing.
- COVID-19 presently accounts for over 10% of American deaths on a daily basis from all causes. It is now the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer, and on track to become the leading cause of death. Its fatality rate is 10 x higher in individuals with significant pre-existing health issues, such as diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, hypertension, and cancer.
- It is true that most survive and recover fully from COVID-19, but there are survivors who are being called “long-haulers” whose symptoms persist. Further, the virus can damage the lungs, heart, and brain leading to other health concerns long-term.
- Young patients represent the fastest growing segment of infected individuals.
Are there effective treatments for COVID-19?
Overall care has been improved for patients with COVID-19, and the chance of dying from this disease on an individual basis has slowly declined over time. Medical therapies include genetically engineered antiviral drugs, genetically engineered antibodies, steroids, and “convalescent plasma” (i.e., plasma taken from patients who have contracted COVID-19 and survived). However, although aggressive combination therapy has somewhat reduced the risk of dying from COVID-19 (studies vary in how much this risk has declined), there remains no known cure for this disease, and it is unlikely that widely effective therapies will be available in foreseeable future.
Vaccines are being rolled out, so why should I get tested for antibodies? Doesn’t that mean the disease will go away soon?
Tremendous progress has been made with respect to the development of vaccines and distribution, although not as quick and efficient as everyone would like, is underway. Note, however:
- Vaccine “effectiveness” specifically means that the drug has been shown to reduce the symptoms of COVID-19. To date, no vaccine has yet been definitively shown to either prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 or to prevent transmission of the virus. Furthermore, we really have very little information about how long any of the new vaccines continue to be effective after initial immunization.
- Significant hurdles exist with respect to shipping, distribution, and administration of a vaccine to over 300 million Americans. Furthermore, over 40 percent of Americans have stated that if even if a vaccine were available to them at no cost, they would not get such a vaccine.
- It is likely that a combination of vaccination and direct COVID exposure will be required for us to ultimately achieve population (“herd”) immunity to the virus.
- Thus, a study focusing on the presence and persistence of antibodies in the general population, i.e., if the antibodies last and grow stronger, is of vital importance.
- On an individual level, your testing will provide you with important health information as to whether you may have potentially protective antibodies.
If I’ve had the COVID vaccine, can I still participate?
Yes, we encourage you to participate if you’ve already had the COVID-19 vaccine. Participating will allow you and the researchers to see if your body has formed antibodies following receiving the vaccine.
If I choose to participate, will my results be kept confidential?
All individual data that will be used for analyses will be kept strictly confidential. Oracle has developed a collaborative relationship with the CDC to help monitor COVID-19 symptoms around the country. Your symptom data will be shared with groups such as the CDC and HHS, but only in de-identified form – which is to say, without any of your personal information. None of your test results will be made available to any outside agency, and the researchers will only develop analyses that have been “scrubbed” of individually identifiable data.
How will my test results be provided to me?
You will receive an email from Oracle when the results are available, approximately 7-10 days after testing.
If I do not want to receive the Oracle daily emails or participate in providing information regarding my health status on a regular basis, will I still be notified of test results?
We strongly encourage all participants to interact with the program through the Oracle daily emails. This is not only the most efficient way to communicate and track symptoms, but it is also the best way for participants to receive important information about COVID related updates or new possible opportunities. That stated, if a participant chooses to opt out of the daily updates, they will still be notified of their test results.
Why are individuals with positive antibody tests being asked to have repeat blood draws several months later?
Whether COVID protective antibodies persist, and specifically how long they linger in the body, is poorly understood. In order for us as individuals and a society to prepare adequate protections for this disease, it is essential that we know how long such antibodies persists, and whether their persistence is dependent on factors such as age or medical history. Repeat testing is essential to obtain this information.
What can I do to help prevent developing COVID-19?
Masks, social distancing, hand washing, symptom tracking, contact tracing, isolation of positives and associated methods have all been shown to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Of these, masks and social distancing are of paramount importance.