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Volunteers help Stanford search for COVID-19 clues in blood samples

Original post made on Apr 4, 2020

Hundreds of volunteers from throughout the county on Friday and Saturday participated in a Stanford survey that could help us understand how many people actually have COVID-19 virus, even if they aren't showing symptoms.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, April 4, 2020, 2:50 PM

Comments (44)

Posted by Liz Gardner
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 4, 2020 at 6:40 pm

Way to go Stanford Medicine. This is hopeful. Can't wait to see the results of this finger prick soon. Does anyone know how I might be part of the next round of data collection and samples?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2020 at 10:25 pm

My husband has 0- and has never been sick from anything in 40 years.
I do think it has something to do with his particular blood type.

Regarding serology test development, many other universities in the US and overseas have been doing antibody studies on this SARS CoV-2.

Posted by type O
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 5, 2020 at 1:44 am

Resident, a number of studies have indeed shown that individuals with blood type O are less susceptible to a variety of diseases (i.e. cardiovascular heart disease, pancreatitis, different forms of cancer) as well as infections (including covid-19, at least as compared to those with blood type A).

On a related note, I wonder whether cystic fibrosis carriers (1/24 persons of European descent, most of whom are unaware that they are carriers) are particularly susceptible to severe consequences of covid-19 infection.

Posted by Ruth
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2020 at 7:03 am

Nice work! I'm looking forward to your results!

Posted by another parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2020 at 9:58 am

I tried to sign up and received a number but no appointment, so they couldn't test me. I am especially interested in being tested because I was HORRIBLY sick in January with what I thought was a weird flu unlike anything I've had before. I was so sick that I actually kept notes so I could remember my fever and when I had taken Tylenol, Advil, Tesalon Perle, inhaler, etc. I really hope they open up the study further or develop an antibody test that can be used widely.

Posted by Ryan
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2020 at 11:21 am

Does anyone know how we can access the results of the survey?

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2020 at 12:26 pm

Excellent project. Wish I'd heard about it in advance and been tested. Is there any information on how scalable and expensive these antibody would be on a massive scale? It would be nice if everyone knew their results.

Posted by Chris R.
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 5, 2020 at 12:47 pm

The fact that Germany has a much lower mortality rate has been puzzling. It turns out, due to the German federal lab testing organization (no central authority like the CDC) and early distribution of a test to those distributed labs in January, the capacity is 500,000 tests a week. So this allowed anyone to be tested, and therefore gives a more precise mortality rate between 0.5-1 percent.

If we apply that in reverse to the number of deaths in other countries, we can get a better idea of the number of infected individuals.

For the US, this would mean, current as of today and assuming a 1% mortality rate, 9,420 deaths * 100 = 942,000 infected people, while the official count is 329,000.

Posted by Berklua
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 5, 2020 at 5:08 pm

How & where do we sign up for the next round? Is there a link to register?

Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2020 at 5:56 pm

It was interesting that this study was offering $10 Amazon gift cards. I dare say no gift cards would be needed to recruit people for the next study.

Based on what happened in Santa Clara County years ago once the scarce H1N1 vaccine first came out, expecting we'll have drive and walk-up distribution sites for Corona antibody tests and later a vaccine starting in the Zip codes with the highest transmission rates from data gathered at these early test studies. I served as a Red Cross Spanish translator at the County Health's H1N1 vaccine program at the County fairgrounds in San Jose and later at a clinic in Sunnyvale. The County is amazing at identifying whichever populations are the most vulnerable and getting them support first.

Posted by @Ryan
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 5, 2020 at 8:03 pm

The results won’t be available to the public. Participants could choose whether or not they wanted to even hear their own results. They/we can choose to tell people our results.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2020 at 8:46 pm

Hi There Friends, I am all the way out in Los Angeles and will be tested next Saturday the 11th. I received a random survey through a company I had registered with. I am very excited to go. If I happened to be one of those folks immune I will donate plasma at the drop of a hat if asked to. I too believe it has something to do with blood type and DNA. And I am O+ blood type - CMV neg ( I actually donated blood with Red Cross on the 27th due to the severe shortage). Although I have asthma and have been pretty good about social distancing I work in direct contact with the public in very close contact (wellness and massage therapy). At the very least I'm excited to get my results. Praying for all of us. This too shall pass. God Bless...

Posted by prashanth
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Apr 6, 2020 at 11:39 am

We always enjoy your articles its inspired a lot by reading your articles day by day. So please accept my thanks and congrats for success of your latest series.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 6, 2020 at 11:51 am

So, the theory goes that CoronaVirus has been spreading much faster than we have thought
and there are a whole bunch of people out here that have gotten the virus, had almost no
symptoms and took it for granted that it was not CoronaVirus, and that also have immunity
and would prove that the fatality rate is lower than thought.

The conclusion of this theory is that lot of people now have immunity from having had the virus
and there are enough people with anti-bodies that there is now enough, or almost enough, to
claim that we have "herd immunity" and we can let people who have the anti-bodies back out
in public and get things rolling again.

It is an interesting theory. Wishful, but interesting.

At this point are we trusting in government enough to believe this theory and that they collect
the results of the antibody testing and analyze and report on those results honestly and
objectively? Are we sure that the presence of antibodies indicates absolute immunity on that
individual? There are anecdotal reports of people having had the CoronaVirus twice, or still
being infectious after they have gotten over the symptoms of the disease.

These ideas are explained well by economist Mark Blyth on the last Radio Open Source podcast
entitled "Profits or People", HERE: Web Link

One thing Blyth points out is that the US brand of efficiency and profiteering has been at the
expense of workers, and the public sector, funneling all capital and protections to the very
rich and powerful. He likens this to the idea of, why do we have two kidneys? Redundancy
is the answers. Blyth says the hollowing out, the off-shoring and out-sourcing has made it
so that we may be profitable, but the economy is so fragile to these disasters that it is like
running on half a kidney. Of course the people that want is to go back to work and accept
the risk of dying have priority to that half-kidney function.

Posted by Cat Mom Leonorilda
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2020 at 12:12 pm

I was very sick in February with symptoms that have been described as those of Covid-19. It took more than 2 weeks for me to fully recover. I believe that Covid-19 was already in the community due to travel to and from China and other places, but it was not yet identified as a threat, or at least not publicly so in early to mid February. How can those of us who were sick in late January and throughout February find out if we were infected with Covid-19?

Posted by jvpadojino
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 6, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Hi @Liz Gardner and @Berklua, my name is Jamey, Palo Alto Online's digital editor. The researchers hope to collect more samples in the future but haven't finalized any plans yet.

@Ryan We plan to follow up with the researchers on the results from the recent data collection.

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2020 at 2:31 pm

another parent: I was also horribly sick with something - in February - with something unlike anything I've ever had before. At some point, I want to be tested, as well.

Posted by Geetu
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2020 at 3:55 pm

I too was very sick in mid-February, almost gasping for breath, i believe I had it, the covid was unheard of and I went to Dr. she did a flu test. I usually don't take Western medicine.

I will never get tested,since i don't have high fever and did not travel outside, but i was in contact with people in Dec/Jan.

Now too at times I have bodyache, occasional headaches.

Can you test my antibody?

Posted by This is Crazy!
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 6, 2020 at 4:41 pm

My family and I were also ill starting right around president's day son was the first to get sick and it went through our household like a fire. I agree with other posters who had similar experiences with a strange illness...In all 4 of us, the symptoms were very different. Kids recovered fine, my Partner took a little longer to rebound...but it was rough......we would be first in line to get a test to check our antibodies...It would also give us some kind of sense of security to know if we did have it...we made it through. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy!

Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 6, 2020 at 7:34 pm

If someone is Asymptomatic with the Covid 19 Virus, do they only have it as long as someone who is showing symptoms? or do they remain carriers for a longer duration?
Just wondering if it runs its course through an Asymptomatic person and the bodies immune system destroys it without symptoms?

Posted by MomdocGt
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 7, 2020 at 9:10 am

What is the point of this epidemiologic study if results are not available to the public? And if Stanford has an antibody test available, why dont they make it available for clinical testing? I was told by the Stanfird clinical lab that they dont have any of the antibody tests available for doctors to order. Mow that would be useful so we could get people back to work. There is an urgent need for clinical aniNGtibody testing and an understanding of whether antibodies confer immunity.

Posted by Berklua
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 7, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Agreed, Momdocgt!

If someone has a lab, I’m willing to contribute my O blood type to help with your clinical trials. I was horribly sick from covid-19 (like fealty) and now I’m fully recovered. It took a long long time.

I’m actually going to donate blood this week, because I’m realizing that not only is there a desperate need for O type blood right now containing life restoring antibodies (which is what I have) but the blood center would probably be required to first confirm for me that I am now testing positive & they would be foolish to not test me O type blood for my life giving plasma.

As for the immunity theory, I think it is highly likely, that there may be immunity for 1 to 3 years, based on SARS and other similar viruses. The people who tested positive after testing negative took tests that were faulty and highly inaccurate. I could be wrong, but I think there are new tests now that are highly accurate.

I am still taking precautions however & wearing mask outside, etc...

Anyone try to give blood yet? That may be a great way to find out if you are negative or positive without getting something stuck up your nose/mouth. I prefer to find out via blood which is how the study above was performed.

Posted by Erik
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2020 at 2:46 pm

ATT: Lisa in Los Angeles.

I am also in LA and would very much like to partake in the Covid-19 antibody test study that you are partaking in now on Saturday April 11th. Is there any way you could give me information about where and how?

My e-mails are:

It would be a life saver for me. Thank you so much in advance.

Best regards,

Posted by On The Border
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:10 pm

I was really sick in early January with symptoms that now are considered COVID-19: slight fever, dry unending cough, sinus aches, lethargy, congestion. It lasted over 2 weeks. A friend got even sicker. She had been traveling in Spain, the UK, Florida, and Michigan. We both think we had it.
I'd love to get tested to see if I had COVID-19.

Posted by Antony44
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2020 at 3:43 am

I hope they continue research or develop an antibody test that can be widely used.Web Link

Posted by Richard
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 8, 2020 at 3:45 am

I would like it to be not a one-time action, but a constant

Posted by MP_Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2020 at 7:53 am

Blood centers are not testing donations for Covid-19. There isn't enough lab capacity for that, and there hasn't been any evidence so far that the virus is transmitted through blood.

Posted by Dan Anderson
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2020 at 1:48 pm

So glad that these bright minds are tackling this issue. When Covid-19 was first really mentioned in the mainstream media, it immediately struck a cord with me as I had been sick since mid-November 2019 with many of the same symptoms (terrible congestion, difficulty breathing, alternating fever/sweats, great fatigue, overall body soreness). Most of the symptoms persisted for several weeks, and I only felt totally better by about mid-Jan 2020. While having symptoms a visit to the urgent care resulted in a sinus swab being taken but a declaration that it was NOT the flu but must be an unknown virus. I travel quite a bit between the East and West Coasts and had been traveling just prior to the onset of symptoms. My daughter ended up with similar symptoms after the holidays but has seemed to recover as well. I eagerly await to hear the results of their findings as it seems we learn a little more each day.

Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 8, 2020 at 2:04 pm

I would also be so interested in an antibodies test if one became widely available. All 5 members of my family had an illness around president's day weekend that was definitely quite contagious -- started with my son then passed to the rest of us in turn. The symptoms weren't horrible for us, no one had a fever, but I remember thinking it was unusual because the only symptom for any of us was a cough (preceded by a slight sore throat), but nobody got a runny nose. Most cold viruses seem to start with a runny nose that eventually results in a cough, so this one stood out to me because it was only a cough. I'm dying to know if we had it, but I'm sure it will be a while before the testing is widespread enough to test people who aren't at special risk.

Posted by Alan I
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2020 at 1:41 pm

When will the initial results of this test be available

Posted by REB
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 9, 2020 at 2:22 pm

My wife and I, both 77 years old, also were both seriously ill in January with severe coughing. I went to my doctor because I feared it might be a recurrence of pneumonia which I had a year earlier; he determined that it was not pneumonia. At that point few had heard of COVID-19. But we strongly suspect that's what we had. We are very interested in learning whether or not we have antibodies. Clearly many others would also like this testing. But we don't see any way to sign up. And it seems a pity that the overall results won't be made public: Pity may be understatement--criminal seems more appropriate.

Posted by GrandmaKK
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2020 at 6:37 pm

As someone else said, my husband and I were very sick in December and January. I would like to know if we had COVID19 so we know whether we might be susceptible to another wave. Will Stanford be offering antibody testing anytime soon?

Posted by pares
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 9, 2020 at 7:55 pm

We too had something which definitely seemed different at the time. My husband does get coughs every winter season but this year he had a cough that seemed particularly bad. It hung on for weeks, at first getting better then getting worse. It included a sore throat for him. Twice he contacted and saw the doctor and was prescribed coughing medicine. And the prescription medication did not really help. This was around early December into January. About a week later after him, I came down with it but it was much milder for me and lasted around two weeks.

Only way to really find out is to be tested for the antibodies.

Posted by Don M.
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2020 at 11:18 am

I also would like to know how I can sign up for this test.

Posted by Geetu
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Is there anothe antibody test coming up soon? for the public in Bay area.

Posted by question
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 14, 2020 at 11:47 am

I volunteered for the test and did not hear back -- presumably I am negative. I am confused by exactly what test was conducted. I was under the impression that it was a home-brew Stanford test. But this article:

Web Link

seems to suggest that the public testing by Stanford Medicine was done using a commercially available test from Premier Biotech. And now, there is a group at Stanford trying to validate the results of that test using a home-brew Stanford test -- which for some reason is being considered the gold standard.

I hope some reporters will get to the bottom of this mysterious testing and give us a clear report. Especially one with false alarm and miss probability rates (together with confidence intervals) that are quantitatively meaningful. I am annoyed by journalists who write the test is "accurate" without specifying exactly what they mean quantitatively.

Posted by More information on immunity
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 14, 2020 at 11:59 am

There is an article by an expert Web Link
No answers yet but useful background and some pointers to relevant but not-yet-published results.

Posted by C
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2020 at 3:43 pm

They tested hundreds of people for antibodies which would indicate they've already had the virus. This was 11 days ago. The test takes 2-3 days to output results. So what were the results? What percentage of these hundreds of people already have the anitbodies? This is what everyone wants to know.

Posted by Berklua
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Apr 17, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Thanks C,

Based on what you & More have written, I’m not interested in getting the test anymore. Sure, I want to help find a cure, but I will also expect that if I took the test, I would be informed of my own results pronto.

Posted by CoronaChan
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 17, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Here is the academic article on the study:

Web Link

Short synopsis: there are up to 85x more infections in Santa Clara County than the reported confirmed cases.

Posted by Stephen
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2020 at 10:59 pm

While the study found a high population weighted prevalence of 2.5% to about 4%, I wonder about the volunteer recruitment--

They recruited volunteers using online ads, but how do they account for the fact that people who might have had the virus will preferentially want to volunteer. If you look at the comments above many of the people wanted to participate because they thought they might have had the virus and they want to find out. Obviously this effect would bias the results to a much higher infection rate.

The authors do acknowledge this issue in their paper, where they say "bias favoring those with prior COVID-like illnesses seeking antibody confirmation are also possible"

Although there is also uncertainty in the accuracy of their test, I'd have much more confidence in their results if the study had actively recruited a randomized sample of the population.

Posted by Jaytee404
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:33 pm

I participated in this study on my bday saturday April 4th. I was curious about the testa and wanted to help but also because I was sick last week of February through 3rd week of march. I had the weirdest symptoms and I can truly say I probably had it and I'm sure my antibody tests came out positive.
How do I get my results? They never really mentioned to me if they'd call or not or email. I just got a $10 gift card and paperwork. How do I get my results?

Posted by Simon morris
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2020 at 8:36 am

Took the test in Lios Gatos but haven’t heard back yet. Are they only disclosing positive results? Does anyone know anyone that was actually given their results?

Posted by scientific critical thinking
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2020 at 12:25 pm

To those who had flu like symptoms that prompted you to donate blood samples to Stanford research, regardless of your individual results, it would be a good service if you could inform all those you may have come in contact with about it as a precaution. If none of them got suffered from COVID19, that's good. But if any of them did, they advise them to do the same.
If no one you know suffered from COVID19, no need to worry about the antibody results as having the antibodies is no guarantee that you will not contract COVID19 again. No data to guarantee. Only Dr Fauci clearly states that.

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