4/29: Seroprevalence Study at USC Student Health

Date: April 29, 2020

To: USC Senior Vice Presidents and Deans
Student Government and Campus Partners in Student Well-being 

From: Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer for USC Student Health 

Re: Seroprevalence Study at USC Student Health

USC Student Health is conducting a study to estimate the percent of USC students that have developed antibodies (a marker of exposure) to the virus that causes COVID-19. Participants will be contacted by email shortly from a randomized sample of current USC students residing on or near the University Park Campus. The study population includes both undergraduate and graduate students. This study may help us learn more about infection rates of COVID-19 on the USC campus and among USC students and help the university prepare for the physical re-opening of the USC University Park Campus. The study closes on or prior to May 8, 2020.

The university is currently planning multiple scenarios for an eventual safe resumption of activities on campuses. USC Student Health of Keck Medicine of USC has been closely monitoring data and recommendations as it is available from public health agencies (CDC, Los Angeles Dept. of Public Health, CA State Dept. of Public Health), as well as information shared among college health counterparts in the ACHA (American College Health Association). This USC Student Health seroprevalence study will enable us to better understand the broader current picture of COVID-19 in the university community among students who are currently on/near campus.

Currently, the science of antibody is in development. It is not yet clear if and what level of antibodies provide protection against future infections with COVID-19. It is also not known if every person infected with COVID-19 produces antibodies. Until such question are answered, antibody testing is best used to estimate previous prevalence of exposure to the virus in a population rather than to guide individual health decisions. As the science of antibody testing develops, it may be possible that antibody testing becomes an important part of the overall public health strategy.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at 213-740-9355 (WELL) or email covid19@usc.edu. Stay safe and stay well.