KETCHUM, Idaho — Idaho's former COVID-19 hotspot is working to battle the virus in a unique way.
Blaine County saw one of the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus in the entire state. Now, the City of Ketchum--through an effort spearheaded by the city's fire chief--is partnering with researchers to help learn more about coronavirus antibodies.
Antibodies are created after the body fights off a virus. Since there were so many cases in the area, Blaine County residents who fought off the coronavirus have plenty of them--a valuable resource for researchers working to learn more about the virus.
"They have tested a thousand people with a demographic split that matches the rest of our county," said Mayor Neil Bradshaw, with the City of Ketchum. "They have a very good idea now of the prevalence of antibodies in our community. More importantly, they have more of an idea of who was affected in those months gone by."
The idea is to test the durability of the antibodies.
"Durability means, how strong is that antibody, and also how long will you have that anti-body? Those two things are really important. Then they determine how that virus attaches to your system," said Blaine County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg.
City leaders say the study likely won't lead to a vaccine, but it will provide researchers with valuable information they can use to defend against the virus.
"What it is is a study that makes us really understand the risk of this virus," Bradshaw explained. "How it is contracted, how it is passed on, and more importantly, how do we get through it? What's the survivability of it? What are the key characteristics of people that do get it and survive, and why certain people don't get it?"
The results of the study are expected to be released next week, but in the meantime, Bradshaw says researchers plan to continue studying the virus in Blaine County.
"They will continue to monitor those people who they first tested, and hopefully lots can be learned from it that makes us a safer place," Bradshaw said.