The FDA has approved new antibody tests which could determine whether you’ve had the virus and have recovered from it — allowing public life to slowly resume.
The US has approved interim antibody tests, manufactured by Cellex, that can deliver results within 15 minutes. These are the first to receive emergency approval by the FDA, while tests from medical institutions and manufacturers are being developed and deployed.
The test could determine who has had the virus and who has already recovered from it. In theory, this could have a number of attractive implications for quotidian life and provide valuable insight into the virus. Understanding how widespread the virus is and whether immunity does exist can allow for greater control of the spread and more informed decision making.
Current tests that are being used are PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which take swabs of your mucus and saliva. This simply checks whether you currently have the virus in you and not whether you have already had it and recovered. An antibody test does both.
The serological test draws a blood sample that is examined for the presence of antibodies. People that are healthy and presumably resistant, could begin to rebuild the battered economy.
Additionally, antibodies could aid in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and be used as a temporary treatment for patients with new infections. In an ideal world, this could allow groups of people to reenter public life, “immune” healthcare workers could be released from quarantine and ease the burden on medical resources and asymptomatic transmission could be prevented.
However, much remains uncertain about the antibodies. The effectiveness of the antibodies is still unknown, especially in the case of reinfection. On top of that, antibodies can take up to several days to show up and the intensity of immune responses vary, which may lead to false negatives. Current trials would ideally eliminate most of the risks before any measures are relaxed prematurely, according to a Reuters report.
Featured Image: Trust Ru Katsande