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UW study looks to find percentage of Washington infected with COVID-19

Testing taking place at UW. (UW Medicine)

A new study announced by UW Medicine on Tuesday will look to figure out the percentage of Washingtonians who have been infected with COVID-19.

Bellevue modeler warns of ‘catastrophic outcomes’ with cases rising

The study will test the antibodies of 7,000 participants three times over an eight-month period. The goals are two-fold: to determine the prevalence of Washington’s COVID-19 outbreak, and the amount of time antibodies are present post-infection.

Ultimately, the hope is to have that information help the state better assess its ongoing response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Data is a crucial tool in helping us fight this pandemic and safely reopening our economy,” Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday. “This study and partnership will provide vital insights about the trajectory of COVID-19 in Washington, informing our response and allowing us to better protect Washingtonians.”

This announcement comes during a crucial point in the state’s fight against the virus. A recent report from the state Department of Health warns that there’s “zero chance” Washington’s outbreak can be reversed “without changes to our collective behavior and policies to support that change.”

‘Zero chance’ WA outbreak is reversed without changes to policies

That’s due to rising transmission rates across the state, particularly in Eastern Washington. At the time of the DOH’s last report, Eastern Washington’s effective reproductive rate — the number of people a single person with the virus will likely infect — sat around 1.20. That number is now closer to 1.41, with “exponential growth” in Spokane that “shows no signs of slowing.”

As of Monday evening, Washington had 47,743 total COVID-19 cases, along with 1,453 deaths.

Funding for UW Medicine’s study is being provided by a $3.4 million grant from the Paul Allen Family Foundation.

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