Stanford rolls out new antibody test for healthcare workers


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Stanford University is offering a new test to its doctors, nurses and other health professionals to find out who was infected with COVID-19 – and who could now carry antibodies that could protect them from re-infection.

“The test will allow us to determine which healthcare workers may be at low risk of working with COVID-19 patients, as well as to understand the prevalence of the disease in our communities,” said Lisa Kim, Stanford spokesperson. Health Care.

The blood test detects protective antibodies against the virus rather than the virus itself.

Health workers face the pathogen COVID-19 aerosol when they clean a patient’s airway, perform a tracheal intubation to help a patient breathe, or provide other care.

So far, the test is only offered to doctors, nurses and other potentially at risk Stanford workers, Stanford announced on Wednesday evening. But that bodes well for the day – ideally, not far away – when a test might be available to the wider community.

Such tests have many advantages: they are quick and affordable, they are portable and they do not require the long process of laboratory analyzes necessary for other methods.

Since the COVID-19 virus can cause little or no symptoms, many people are unaware that they have been infected. Or maybe they were slightly sick before COVID-19 made the headlines, and just looked at them as a cold or the flu.

The news follows the launch last week of a research project at Stanford using the same approach. This effort, which invited 2,500 members of the general community to have their blood tested for antibodies, was the first large-scale study of its kind in the United States. He was coordinated with the Santa Clara County public health department to find out more about the presence of the virus. in the county.

These blood tests find antibodies in the blood – molecules produced by the immune system – in response to a viral attack. Even though the pathogen is brand new, scientists have already discovered the two antibodies – called IgM and IgG – that are triggered by an infection. A test detects their unique signature.

But this method has important limits. Antibodies provide evidence – but these are just fingerprints left by the culprit. A person whose blood contains anti-coronavirus antibodies may still be sick or feel but be contagious.

It can take up to two weeks for a person’s immune system to develop antibodies to the coronavirus, so even if their blood does not show it, they could currently fight the infection.

To know for certain if a person is infected with a coronavirus, genetic tools must always be used to detect the presence of RNA in the virus – a more expensive and time-consuming process that is currently used in tests across the country.


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