Ducey doles out $115M CARES Act funds to universities

Researchers from the University of Arizona catalog blood samples taken for antibody testing. The first phase of the testing began in April with 3,000 health-care workers and first responders. The goal is to test 250,000 first responders and health-care workers statewide./ File Photo: Chris Richards / University of Arizona

By Howard Fischer |Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

A program at the University of Arizona to test 250,000 people to see if they’re immune to COVID-19 hasn’t gotten the public demand that was expected.

In April, UA President Robert Robbins announced the school would be offering the blood tests, first to students and staff and later to front-line medical personnel and first responders.

Robbins, who is a medical doctor, said someone who shows a positive test for antibodies likely is immune from getting the virus again. And that, he said, could allow people to decide if they feel safe when doing their jobs.

But Deepta Bhattacharya, a professor of immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine, told Capitol Media Services on Wednesday that only about 50,000 tests have been administered.

“The ‘take rate’ (among first responders) when we first started was pretty low,” he said.

The flip side of that, Bhattacharya said, is that there are still tests available.

“So now it’s available to anyone who wants it,” he said.

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