Doctors have made the terrifying statement that even if a person is found to have antibodies to COVID-19, that doesn’t necessarily make them immune to the killer virus that has paralyzed the world.
Many are hoping to reopen society and get back to work with a so-called “passport” of immunity, which means they got the virus, got over it and cannot be reinfected because antibodies in their blood.
But none of the dozens of tests rushed into production and scaled up around the world are tested.
Some are not sensitive enough to detect antibodies and some cannot differentiate them from antibodies to other diseases.
Now doctors are warning that even if the test is nailed, it might not work as people think.
Volunteers from Stanford University carried out driving tests over the weekend. Now doctors warn that even if a person has antibodies, they may not be immune
“Just because you have antibodies doesn’t mean you have immunity,” said Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory School of Medicine in Georgia, on Friday.
“Everyone is optimistic about sustained immunity for at least the months to a year that follow.
“But that’s still a bit of an assumption,” added Kelly Wroblewski, director of infectious diseases for the Association of Public Health Laboratories, in a statement to Politico.
On Monday, officials from the World Health Organization admitted that they were not convinced that a person could not be infected a second time as well.
“When it comes to recovery and then reinfection, I don’t think we have the answers to that.
“He’s an unknown,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO emergency program, said at a press conference in Geneva on Monday.
HOW DO BLOOD TESTS FOR CORONAVIRUS WORK?
Simple blood tests for the coronavirus, like Premier Biotech, work much like pregnancy tests.
Once the blood sample is taken, a technician injects it into the analysis device – which is the size of an Apple TV or Roku remote control – with a tampon, and waits for about 10 minutes.
The blood droplet and tampon penetrate the absorbent paper strip enclosed in the plastic collection device.
Blood naturally infiltrates along the strip, which is colored at three points: one for each of the two types of antibodies and a third control line.
The strip is labeled “IgM” and “IgG” for immunoglobulins M and G. Each of these types of antibodies is produced by the body in response to infection in an advanced or early stage.
Along each strip, the antibodies themselves are printed in combination with gold, which reacts when the antigen – or pathogen, in this case, the virus that causes COVID-19 – or the antibody to fight are present.
The results are displayed in a similar way to those of a home pregnancy test.
One line – the upper control strip – means negative.
Two lines – the upper control line and the lower IgM line – in a spread out configuration mean that the sample contains antibodies that the body begins to make soon after infection.
Two closer lines – control and IgG – together mean that the person is positive for antibodies at an advanced stage.
Three lines indicate that the patient is positive for both types of antibodies.
Dr. Ryan also made the frightening comment that the virus could “reactivate” in a person’s body, which could infect them a second time without coming into contact with a new source of infection.
“There are many reasons why we might see reactivation of the infection either with the same infection or with another infectious agent.
“There are many situations of viral infection where someone does not completely eliminate the virus from their system,” he said, adding that even if a person can eliminate the initial virus, they can develop an infection secondary bacterial.
There is a worldwide race to develop not only accurate antibody tests, but also simple home diagnostic tests to find out if a person is currently infected.
The FDA recently approved the first diagnostic saliva test developed by the Emory School of Medicine.
It has approved only one antibody test, but it is unclear when and where it will be deployed.
In the meantime, nearly 100 private companies have manufactured and sell their own kits under relaxed FDA rules, which means they can be sold without approval.
The rules were relaxed due to the catastrophic delay in diagnostic tests in the United States at the start of the pandemic.
While this allows more people to get tested quickly, the accuracy or legitimacy of the tests is unconfirmed.
He created a “Wild West” scenario in which governments and private companies rush to pass their tests on the mass market in order to get people back to work to restart the economy.
Separately, scientists run different types of tests to try to find out how much the virus was and is still present in society.
They hope this will help them better understand the pandemic and prevent it from happening again.
The boss of the Republican Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, who oversaw the rescue from the 2008 recession, says antibody tests are essential to the reopening of the United States – but the country is YEARS from millions of tests.
The head of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve says that antibody testing is the key to being able to slowly reopen the country, but that the United States is months or even years away from being able to conduct large-scale tests.
In an interview with NBC’s Today on Tuesday on the country’s prospects for reopening, Neel Kashkari said that this should happen slowly and that authorities should follow any outbreak of coronavirus until a treatment or vaccine is developed.
“We should continue with all the widespread testing. I have spoken to health experts who believe that we are months or even years away from being able to test millions of people on any given day, “said Kashkari.
Neel Kashkari, boss of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said that antibody tests were the key to being able to slowly reopen the country, but that the United States was months, if not years, from being able to perform tests. in large scale
“We’re going to have to reopen things slowly and see very carefully if we get any further pushes. “
If there is a spate of new cases, Kashkari said the United States should “lock things in again and continue to do so for the foreseeable future until we get effective treatment or vaccine.”
Kashkari, who helped manage the US bailout program during the 2008 recession, said the United States should be targeted to try to reopen the country, including looking for companies to reopen.
He said, for example, that it would make sense to initially reopen optometrists instead of cinemas to maintain some form of social distancing.
“I think we are going to have to be much more targeted as we try to reopen the economy,” he said.
“Until you actually extinguish (coronavirus) with a vaccine or treatment, there is always this risk of relapse. We have to be very careful and think long term, ”said Kashkari.
“For me, it’s not the next two weeks or the next month. It’s about how to get to that destination for a vaccine or therapy.
Kashkari said it was likely that the economy could take at least 18 months to recover from the disruption caused by the coronavirus.
“I don’t think we’re going to go back to how life was in January and February for the next year or the next 18 months,” he said.
His comments echo a weekend interview he gave CBS during which he said the United States was facing a “long and hard road” to recovery.
“It could be a long and difficult road before us until we get effective therapy or a vaccine,” he said.
“It is difficult for me to see a V-shaped recovery in this scenario. “
Kashkari’s comments came amid signals from President Donald Trump that he wants to reopen the economy as soon as possible.
Health experts have warned that the death toll could reach 200,000 over the summer if the unprecedented stay-at-home orders that closed businesses and kept most Americans indoors are lifted when they expire at the end of the month.
Kashkari said additional support was needed for small businesses beyond the $ 350 billion provided in the coronavirus aid program adopted in March, but he was optimistic that Congress would approve more funding.
An impressive 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the three weeks leading up to April 4 and economists expect unemployment to reach depression era levels in the coming weeks while entire sectors remain closed in an attempt to contain the pandemic.