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"We have 38,000 employees and we have another 4,000 doctors who practice at our hospital who are in private practice and they have about 1,000 MPs and PAs who work with them," Dr. Matthew Sims, Beaumont's director of infections disease research, told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Monday, "and all of those people are eligible to be tested.
"Now these are people, a lot of which are being exposed to patients who have COVID[-19]," Sims went on. "So what we're going to be doing is looking at a relatively high-risk population to see whether or not they've developed antibodies ... if only people who have no antibodies get COVID and all the people who do have antibodies don't get COVID, that's going to tell us the antibodies are protective and that people who have them can safely be exposed."
Sims said he expected the first set of results from the study "in about a month."
Some doctors are using blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to treat those currently suffering from COVID-19. Staffers with a high number of antibodies could donate their plasma for use in treatment. If the plasma proves highly effective, the study could pave the way for a coronavirus vaccine.
Sims explained to host Tucker Carlson that the study seeks to determine "what percentage of the population is asymptomatic, what percentage got it and never knew it.
"It's also going to tell us ... are we seeing more antibodies in the people who are going in every day to the COVID rooms than we are to, say, people who are working in the warehouse?" he added.
A key question of the study, Sims said, is whether and for how long the antibodies protect someone from the virus.
"So, for the common cold versions of the coronavirus, they tend to last a short time, but studies with SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] and MERS [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome], the other two very serious coronaviruses, say they last a couple of years, two, three years," he said. "But it may actually last even longer than that if you have what's called natural boosting, which means the virus is circulating in the environment and you're exposed to it and that triggers your immune system to make new antibodies ... So that's one of the things we're going to find out, how long do these antibodies last?"