The Republican leadership in the North Carolina legislature has been pushing for more testing to determine the presence of COVID-19 in the general population in order to make more informed decisions on how to move forward.

State Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Phil Berger and state House Speaker Tim Moore both sent out press releases on Monday, April 13, announcing that Wake Forest Baptist Health would undertake such a study. The study will be conducted by Dr. John Sanders and Dr. David Herrington of Wake Forest Baptist Health in collaboration with Dr. Michael Runyon and Dr. Michael Gibbs of Atrium Health. The study will be funded with $100,000 from the legislature’s discretionary account.

It will be done on 1,000 people and participants will use an at-home antibody test kit to prick their finger. The test will use the blood to determine if COVID-19 antibodies are present. If COVID-19 antibodies are present it indicates a high probability that the person has already had the virus.

The sample of people will be statistically representative of the population of the state and the results will be extrapolated to indicate the prevalence of immunity to the virus in the general population.

The participants will be tested every month for a year to track the virus and the immunity of the population over time

Berger said, “This groundbreaking Wake Forest Baptist Health study, led by Dr. John Sanders, will fill a critical data gap that’s been missing for many weeks, and will help us learn if the true situation is better or worse than the models project. Nobody knows the true hospitalization and fatality rates for this virus, even as the government has ordered a full-scale economic shutdown.”

Moore said, “As we prepare an immediate legislative response package to help North Carolinians affected by this emergency, we will also pursue a comprehensive scientific understanding of this pandemic and its potential long-term impacts on our state.”

Sanders said that the study “will help fill a data gap that has existed since the start of the pandemic.”