Blood Viles in Lab

Alpharetta First Georgia City To Provide Antibody Testing To Emergency Responders

Released May 20, 2020 11:59 AM

This week the City of Alpharetta became the first municipality in Georgia to provide COVID-19 antibody testing to first responders.  All first responders employed by Alpharetta can receive the test, which indicates whether a person has been exposed to the coronavirus causing their immune system to produce the antibodies needed to fight the disease, at no cost.  Funding for the program is provided by the City.


“Our initial program offers free antibody testing to our 200 first responders, and we are already in discussions with representatives of WellStar Healthcare System on the potential to expand the program to all City of Alpharetta employees as well as other essential workers and major employers in Alpharetta,” said Alpharetta Mayor Jim Gilvin.  “Exactly what such an expansive program would look like, how it could be achieved logistically, and how it could be funded are all being explored at this time.”


Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, are proteins that are produced by the immune system to help stop viruses from causing bodily harm.  A person who is infected by COVID-19 begins to develop antibodies seven to fourteen days after contracting the virus, and those antibodies can be detected in the person’s blood.  Emerging evidence suggests those antibodies may provide an individual with a level of immunity to COVID-19 for some period of time.  It is also believed that, because some patients may contract COVID-19 but have very mild or even no symptoms, the disease may have infected more people and had a wider spread than is currently known.  Testing for COVID-19 antibodies will help to provide additional data as to how far the virus has spread; information that could help in the ongoing fight against this virus and help to prepare for future pandemic events.


Alpharetta has partnered with StageZero Life Sciences on the current antibody testing program.  The company is dedicated to the early detection of cancer and multiple disease states through whole blood.  StageZero operates a CLIA certified, high complexity laboratory in Richmond, Virginia that is qualified to perform the serology testing for COVID-19 antibodies. 


“Mayor Gilvin and the City of Alpharetta’s approach to opening up the City’s economy while working to ensure the safety of City employees, businesses and citizens is commendable” commented James Howard-Tripp, Chairman and CEO of StageZero Life Sciences. “We are pleased to be part of the process and to work with the team at Wellstar as well”


Serology tests are conducted on a sample of blood which is collected by a phlebotomist.  A positive test indicates an individual has been infected by the COVID-19 virus and has developed antibodies to the infection. Detection of IgM antibodies indicates recent infection, while IgG antibodies gradually appear and increase in the late stage of infection.


An Alpharetta resident, Sunny Nastase, approached Mayor Gilvin about StageZero’s innovative approach to antibody testing, which uses a two stage process the company says provides a 99% accuracy rate.  The Mayor was intrigued at the potential for learning more about how COVID-19 may have impacted Alpharetta and gaining information that could help determine if safety precautions put into place for the City’s emergency responders had been effective in protecting them from contracting the virus.


“Sunny brought everyone to the table, and the resulting conversations convinced our team that the initial program would have value,” Gilvin explained.  “But, the further we got into the discussion, the more we wondered if pursuing a broader program would be feasible and beneficial to others.”


In recent weeks, the State of Georgia has rapidly expanded its ability to offer tests to anyone who thinks they may currently have COVID-19.  Through sites such as the location in Alpharetta on North Point Parkway that is operated by the Fulton County Department of Public Health, any citizen can be tested for free and learn if they have the disease.  But serology testing for antibodies is not yet widely available in Georgia.


State department of health data has consistently indicated that the City of Alpharetta maintained one of the lowest Covid-19 infection rates in Fulton County.  The newest data, however, indicates that the number of people who contracted the disease but never realized it may be far larger than earlier estimates.


“As our nation begins to look toward the future of combating the COVID-19 virus it will be important to know how widespread the disease has actually been amongst people who were asymptomatic,” Gilvin said.  “We will continue to do everything we can to assure the safety of the people who live and work in our community.”

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About the City of Alpharetta:

There is a reason why more than 700 technology-based businesses have made their home in Alpharetta, and it is not just the nice houses and great weather.  The community that had a population of only 3,000 in 1980 today is home to more than 65,000 residents and sees its population swell to more than 120,000 each workday.  Yet, while the community now has the trappings and success of a metropolitan city, Alpharetta remains known for its sense of community; an ideal environment for raising families, making friends, and enjoying a quality of life that is second to none.


About StageZero Life Sciences:

StageZero Life Sciences is dedicated to the early detection of cancer and multiple disease states through whole blood. Aristotle®, our next generation test, is a panel for simultaneously screening for 10 cancers from a single sample of blood with high sensitivity and specificity for each cancer. Aristotle is built on our proven and proprietary Sentinel Principle Technology Platform which has been validated on 10,000 patients and used to develop the first liquid biopsy for Colorectal Cancer, with further validation currently underway. In addition to building a pipeline of products for early cancer detection, the Company operates a CAP accredited and CLIA certified reference laboratory based in Richmond, Virginia that offers the ColonSentry® test as well as licensed biomarker tests for breast and prostate cancers.