As recently highlighted by Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, key voices in the White House coronavirus task force, antibody testing will begin to ramp up throughout the nation in the days and weeks ahead to better inform our tact in fighting COVID-19.
At a hospital in Chicago, a non-randomized sample found that 30-50% of patients tested for COVID-19 have antibodies in their system, suggesting they already had the virus and have potential immunity.
“A phlebotomist working at Roseland Community Hospital said Thursday that 30% to 50% of patients tested for the coronavirus have antibodies while only around 10% to 20% of those tested have the active virus,” Chicago City Wire reported Thursday.
“Sumaya Owaynat, a phlebotomy technician, said she tests between 400 and 600 patients on an average day in the parking lot at Roseland Community Hospital. Drive-thru testing is from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. each day. However, the hospital has a limited number of tests they can give per day,” the report detailed. “Owaynat said the number of patients coming through the testing center who appear to have already had coronavirus and gotten over it is far greater than those who currently have the disease.”
“A lot of people have high antibodies, which means they had the coronavirus but they don’t have it anymore, and their bodies built the antibodies,” Owaynat told Chicago City Wire.
The antibody testing will better inform public health and government officials about how widespread the virus is already, and in turn, how effective their lockdown measures will actually be.
Additionally, with some 16 million-plus Americans losing their jobs as a result of lockdown policy, the vital testing will be used, according to Dr. Fauci, to help turn on at least some areas of the economy again. If you are found to have antibodies and thus are likely immune, for example, it would make little sense for you to be totally shielded from society.
As noted by Chicago City Wire, the testing shows that it’s possible “the spread of the virus may have been underway in the Roseland community – and the state and country as a whole – prior to the issuance of stay at home orders and widespread business closures in mid-March which have crippled the national economy.”
It’s unclear how widespread COVID-19 is in the nation, and where, but, according to a New York Times report, it has been estimated that 25% of all carriers are asymptomatic, meaning they carry the disease and have no symptoms to show for it. Of course, the more widespread it is could mean the virus is more contagious than initially thought, and less deadly.
An antibody test study is reportedly underway in California by researchers at Stanford University.
“Researchers at Stanford Medicine are working to find out what proportion of Californians have already had COVID-19. The new study could help policymakers make more informed decisions during the coronavirus pandemic,” KSBW 8 News reported. “The team tested 3,200 people at three Bay Area locations on Saturday using an antibody test for COVID-19 and expect to release results in the coming weeks.”