KETCHUM, Idaho — Preliminary study results were released from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences on the antibody study conducted in Blaine County last month. The results estimate that 23% of the county’s adult population has an antibody to coronavirus.
The rate of COVID-19 infections in Blaine County was significant. Antibody prevalence was highest in Ketchum at 35%. This is one of the highest rates per capita in the nation. These results show that Ketchum bore the brunt of the disease.
A survey was completed by Mmre than 2,500 valley residents for possible participation in the study. 917 test were administered to those who were selected.
“I am grateful to all those that signed up for this study,” said Mayor Neil Bradshaw. “Our valley is certainly doing its part to help further the understanding of the coronavirus. There is no doubt that COVID-19 hit us hard. Our recovery is testament to the health and safe practices of our community.”
The antibody test determines the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals to determine how many asymptomatic, or silent, cases there are in the community. The specificity of the test performed in Blaine County is 99.9%, indicating only one in one thousand would be a false positive result.
“As a community we were fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with some of the most prestigious research institutions in the country on this research, said Ketchum Fire Chief Bill McLaughlin. “We played our part in helping them understand disease transmission and vaccine development. In turn, we learned more about our community’s exposure to COVID-19.”
Some participants noted that they did not develop antibodies even though they live in the same household as persons with the disease and did not practice social distancing. Additional research is looking into this finding.
While antibody response may confer immunity, research is still underway. Most researchers are estimating that 60% or more of the population might need immunity to reach a herd immunity threshold. Because of that, Ketchum has not yet reached herd immunity.
The study was a collaboration between the Ketchum Fire Department, Blaine County Ambulance District, University of Washington, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.