By Brooke Rogers

HOUSTON ( – If you want to know if you’ve had COVID, it’s as easy as a free blood test. That’s thanks to a groundbreaking, statewide study called Texas CARES.

It’s a chance to contribute to science – while learning about history – yours.

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“I was curious,” said participant Joan Kabit. “I wanted to see what my immunity still was and how safe I still was.”

All it took was a five-minute online survey and a visit to a lab for a blood draw. A few days later, Kabit had her answer: she had antibodies from the vaccine, but as far as a COVID infection?

“I did not have it. And that was good news, and I think it’s good information for everybody to have,” she said.

Texas CARES is spearheaded by the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health. It requires three free antibody tests over six months.

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Team member Sarah Messiah, an epidemiologist with UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, said the data will be critical to understanding how many Texans have contracted COVID and how the antibodies work. More than 100,000 participants are enrolled.

“We got there really fast in a short period of time, to which I think indicates how much people are curious about this antibody protection that they have or if they have it or they don’t,” Messiah said.

All Texans from ages five to 80 are eligible to participate in the study. But they’ve had such a strong turnout that they’re pausing the study on Friday until they receive the next round of funding.

Dr. Messiah said around 30 percent of participants are showing natural antibodies. And she said she’s proud to help lead the way in research that will ultimately save lives.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to give back to my field and hopefully contribute really important information to ultimately keep all of our Texas children healthy and their families healthy,” she said.

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If you want more information about the program or how to sign up, you can go to the Texas Cares website.