Coronavirus, Healthcare Providers, University of Washington

Low rate of coronavirus infection among frontline UW Medicine health workers antibody test finds

This is a highly magnified, digitally colorized transmission electron microscopic image of coronavirus (MERS). NIAID

Antibody Testing of Frontline UW Medicine Healthcare Workers Shows Low Prevalence of COVID-19 Infection

From UW Medicine

The UW Medicine Virology Lab announced today that antibody testing of frontline UW Medicine healthcare workers shows an approximately 3% prevalence of previous COVID-19 infection, which is below the rate found in the general population.

These early results indicate that there is not a significantly higher risk among the UW Medicine’s frontline healthcare population than in the population at large.

Results suggest that steps taken to protect healthcare workers are effective.

Antibody testing involves performing clinical blood tests to check for the presence of antibodies that indicate past infections of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

UW Medicine’s goal in offering antibody testing to all employees is to determine the prevalence of previous COVID-19 infection within our population of healthcare workers compared to the prevalence in the general public. 

An initial phase of testing focused on frontline staff at Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Airlift Northwest and UW Neighborhood Clinics with direct exposure to COVID-19 patients, including those working in the Emergency Department and dedicated COVID-19 intensive and acute care units; a second phase of testing included healthcare workers from regular inpatient units. 

UW Medicine employees who fall outside of these two groups are also being offered the test in a third phase.

Coronavirus transmission risk can be successfully mitigated if early and frequent testing and safety measures are implemented. This allows for the rapid isolation of known coronavirus cases, which creates a safer environment for hospital workers and patients while lowering risk to the general public they interact with outside of work.

A full analysis and comprehensive data from all three phases of testing done with UW Medicine employees will be published at a future date.