Health Care

COVID-19 antibody tests are here

COVID-19 antibody tests are here”

US employers have cooled to the idea of testing workers for possible immunity to the coronavirus as they prepare to reopen factories and other workplaces.

Gov. Ned Lamont and health officials have touted widespread antibody testing as a critical way to determine when employees can return to work, but others say such testing is problematic, of questionable value and logistically daunting.

Antibodies are proteins that bind to specific foreign substances in our bodies, like the virus that causes COVID-19, and neutralize the virus.

But many US companies are not planning to use them, relying on face masks, temperature checks, social distancing, and diagnostic tests for those with symptoms, employers and healthcare experts told Reuters. The American Medical Association cautioned on Thursday that these tests do not determine an individual's immunity.

"Go get tested you'd be surprised how many folks I've talked to just recently and they're starting to look back and say I had something that wasn't the flu back in February", said the man. The AHN antibody tests cost $53 per employee.

A new antibody test from Roche Holding AG that has shown itself to be highly accurate could potentially help answer questions about antibodies and immunity and change corporate demand, but it has not done so yet, consultants and companies said.

Results from antibody testing should not be used to diagnose or exclude acute SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The researchers next studied whether the World Health Organization's (WHO) criteria for antibody testing of MERS could be used for COVID-19.

It is a different type of test to the home finger prick blood tests which have also become available.

More news: United States border closure extended 30 more days, Trudeau says

"As we work toward gaining a better understanding of this illness, we urge healthcare professionals to work closely with laboratory professionals, who play an indispensable role in developing and performing diagnostic and serologic tests and providing guidance in their proper use and interpretation". One week after the first symptoms, either IgG or IgM could be detected in 60% of patients, with nearly 100% of patients displaying either antibody by the end of 3 weeks. Those views were echoed in interviews with a handful of smaller US manufacturers. "So we still need a lot more research to understand how to deal with it".

Employers are also wary of an unregulated US market for antibody tests.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration initially allowed companies to launch antibody tests with minimal oversight.

Last week, the agency set a deadline for all vendors to prove to the FDA that their tests work or remove them from the market. The first test detects all "true" positives, but also some who are "falsely" positive.

One of the biggest USA testing providers, LabCorp, on Thursday said it was rolling out a program to make diagnostic tests and antibody tests available at workplaces.

In addition, as knowledge of COVID-19 infection evolves, conflicting views have arisen within the medical and public health communities about how COVID-19 antibody testing can contribute to patient care and to the development of strategies to contain the pandemic.

Singles around the country are adding their COVID-19 antibody test results to their dating app profiles, but testing positive doesn't necessarily mean it's safe to meet someone for a romantic rendezvous.

'I've seen it starting to creep up on a few profiles.

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