Institute Helps Bring Antibody Testing to Los Angeles

Last week, Dr. Neeraj Sood, Professor and Vice Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs at the Price School of Public Policy, joined USC President Carol Folt and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to discuss the COVID-19 antibody research study, conducted by USC and the County of Los Angeles with support from the Schwarzenegger Institute. You can watch highlights from the briefing here.

At a time when everyone is looking for ways to make a positive difference, our team at the Schwarzenegger Institute — led by Senior Fellow and LA City Councilmember-Elect Kevin de León – was honored to do our part by providing funding and operational support at test sites across Los Angeles County. See below for detailed information on the study. 

COVID-19 Study Background

The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic represents one of the most significant public health threats the world has faced in the past century. Antibody testing is an emerging method for determining whether someone has the antibodies or immune cells that potentially give them immunity against COVID-19. Testing for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, in addition to testing for the absence of the virus itself using traditional COVID-19 tests, could potentially identify those who can enter the workforce with minimal risk of infecting others or getting infected themselves. 

In one of the first such tests being conducted in the U.S., the USC Price School of Public Policy and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health—with support from the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy and Lieberman Research Worldwide—conducted a pilot test of a representative sample of 1,000 adults living in Los Angeles County for COVID-19 antibodies. The testing took place at six different drive-through sites within the county. The study’s goal is to determine the likely number of people in LA County who have ever had COVID-19, which will help provide a more accurate picture of how widely the virus has spread in the population, the mortality rate associated with infection, and potential immunity across the population. Testing will be repeated every two weeks to track the trajectory of the epidemic.

Pilot testing was conducted on Friday and Saturday, April 10-11, 2020. There were six different testing locations throughout LA County. Study participants were pre-selected via random sample; no walk-up participants from the general public were allowed. Read more in this front-page story from the LA Times, “How Far Has Coronavirus Spread? This Test is the First Step in Trying to Get Back to Normal Life” (April 10)