AUSTIN (KXAN) — Researchers with the University of Texas Health Science Center and the Texas Department of State Health Services have seen an uptick in people participating in the Texas Cares antibody survey.

The program launched a year ago and has been surveying thousands of Texans to learn more about how COVID-19 spreads in their Texas communities.

“Initially it was out of pure curiosity to see if I had COVID in the past,” said Leah Ann Tibbitts.

Tibbitts just recently found out about the Texas Cares survey. She got her results back within 24 hours and found she hasn’t had COVID-19 in the past, based on the results.

“In my mind, anything I can do to help research against COVID is a good thing,” said Tibbitts.

Texans from the Panhandle all the way down to the Rio Grand Valley are eligible to participate in the antibody testing.

(Courtesy University of Texas Health Science Center)
(Courtesy University of Texas Health Science Center)

People are asked to commit to three antibody tests over the course of six months. They’re each a blood drawn tests. Participants will choose a clinical pathology lab site to have blood drawn for the three antibody tests.

“We’re able to look at the prevalence of people who have the natural antibodies, and also the vaccine-induced antibodies to COVID,” said Dr. Harold Kohl with UT Health School of Public Health.

Dr. Harold Kohl and his team have found that roughly 30% of people surveyed have some evidence of the COVID-19 antibodies. In school-aged children 30% are showing evidence of having the natural antibodies. This survey group includes 5-year-olds up to students at the high school level.

“That’s obviously troublesome when 65% to 70% of the younger population has no antibody immunity and the younger kids aren’t able to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Kohl.

The Delta surge is a double edge sword according to Kohl, but as far as the Texas Cares Survey goes more people are interested in understanding if they have the antibodies.

“For us this is a public health issue,” said Tibbitts. “If we can do our part, then we certainly will.”

Nearly 20,000 people have been enrolled for a baseline assessment according to the Texas Cares Survey researchers. Several thousand have completed all three of the assessments.

To enroll in the Texas Cares Survey you can follow this link.