A large ongoing study in Texas has found that between 14 percent and 34 percent of all Texans have COVID-19 antibodies, including about 30 percent of children age 5 to 19, KERA News in Dallas reported Monday. The surprise preliminary findings suggest children could play an important role in helping Texas and the U.S. achieve herd immunity.
The Texas CARES study, a collaboration between University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas and the Texas Department of State Health Services, collects and tests thousands of blood samples and patient surveys, looking for the prevalence of COVID-19 in the state. It runs through July.
"Children actually have a higher seroprevalence than adults do," Sarah Messiah, a professor of epidemiology at UT Health and a collaborator on the study, tells KERA News. Half of the children with antibodies experienced no symptoms, she added. "Children have not been a part of this conversation," but "think about the households that have children in them." Herd immunity is when enough people are infected or vaccinated to stop the virus from spreading in a community. Experts estimate up to 80 percent of people must have immunity to reach that point.