BOSTON — Starting Monday, Boston is launching a new program to test residents for coronavirus antibodies. The goal is to test people who don’t have any symptoms to see how many could be potential carriers.
Mayor Marty Walsh announced the program on Sunday, in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital. One thousand asymptomatic residents in three of Boston’s hardest hit neighborhoods -- Roslindale, East Boston and areas of Dorchester -- will be tested to see whether they have coronavirus and if they have coronavirus antibodies.
“The more we can expand our testing, the more we can learn how to use our medical resources more efficiently, and how we need to focus our current efforts to contain the virus," Walsh said.
"I want to thank MGH for being an excellent partner on this effort that we hope will be a step forward towards the path to recovery.”
It’s a voluntary study and the city began reaching out on Sunday. MGH will collect data of 1,000 asymptomatic Boston residents this week.
The city will be in charge of doing the nasal swab to test for coronavirus, while Mass. General will run the antibody blood test taken from finger pricks.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that many people who have been infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, but we don’t yet know how prevalent the disease is in our city, in our communities and in our society,” said Dr. Peter Slavin, President of Mass. General Hospital.
Slavin added that testing will provide vital clues into the spread of the virus and help medical professionals develop strategies to slow down or stop COVID-19.
Participation is voluntary to residents contacted. Testing is expected to be completed by May 1 and summary data of compiled results will be made public, although no personal information will be shared.
On a national level, the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 25 percent of people infected are asymptomatic.