U.S. Navy sailors onboard San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt are participating in a voluntary COVID-19 antibody testing, the U.S. Department of Defense said Friday.
Thousands of sailors from the aircraft carrier and the embarked staffs signed on to take the antibody test which indicates whether or not each sailor has had previous exposure to COVID-19, DOD said.
The ship recently returned to sea after being docked in Guam as the 4,800 crew members went through rotations of quarantine after more than 1,000 of them tested positive for the coronavirus.
“The science on this test is relatively new and we do not know if the antibodies resulting from the infection will provide future immunity,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Pavlicek, a microbiologist from Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit Six in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. “We do know it is important for the Navy to provide Sailors with leading-edge medical care and testing, and that this kind of information can also help primary care physicians in providing the best healthcare possible to each and every Sailor.”
The test requires medical personnel to draw a small amount of blood from each crew member, which will then be shipped to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
USS Theodore Roosevelt
“An antibody test looks for the presence of specific protective proteins made by the body in response to infections,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Maybelle Lania, lab technician and leading petty officer of Theodore Roosevelt’s medical department. “This test can detect COVID-19 specific antibodies in most people who have had an infection, whether they knew it or not.”
On Friday, the Navy upheld the firing of carrier Captain Brett Crozier and his boss, Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, claiming both made serious errors in judgment as they tried to work through an outbreak that sidelined the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam for 10 weeks, said Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations.
“While this antibody testing won't contribute to vaccine development directly, this will help the Navy develop tools for future outbreak response and will provide each sailor with information on their current state of health,” Pavlicek said.
Theodore Roosevelt is the nation’s fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000 sailors. It departed San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment on January 17.