Is it useful for the US to issue an “immunization certificate” antibody test?

Is it useful for the US to issue an “immunization certificate” antibody test?
April 16, 2020 No Comments News customwar.com

New coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) is rampant in the United States, and Washington is studying multiple options to deal with it, including issuing “immunization certificates” to Americans with viral antibodies. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on April 10 that it will conduct testing for 10,000 healthy volunteers. What exactly is antibody testing and what is the role of testing?

New Coronary Pneumonia: Washington is studying the issuance of "immunization certificates" to Americans with viral antibodies to restart the economy.  The picture shows an American flag waving in New York on April 11.  (Getty)

New Coronary Pneumonia: Washington is studying the issuance of “immunization certificates” to Americans with viral antibodies to restart the economy. The picture shows an American flag waving in New York on April 11. (Getty)

How to conduct antibody testing?

The main function of antibody detection is to confirm whether the person tested has been infected with the virus, which is different from the nucleic acid test that usually detects whether the human body is infected with new coronavirus.

This test is relatively simple, just collect blood at the fingertips, and detect the presence of new coronavirus antibodies in the blood.

New Coronary Pneumonia: New Coronary Pneumonia is raging around the world. The picture shows an Iranian scientist studying the coronavirus detection kit in the Tehran laboratory on April 11.  (AP)

New Coronary Pneumonia: New Coronary Pneumonia is raging around the world. The picture shows an Iranian scientist studying the coronavirus detection kit in the Tehran laboratory on April 11. (AP)

Principles of antibody detection

When the body is invaded by a virus, after a period of time, it will recognize and expand the immune response and produce antibodies. The principle of serological testing is to look for the presence of antibodies in the blood of the subjects in order to know whether they have been infected and have a certain level of immunity.

If a person’s blood contains the corresponding antibody, it means that he has been infected with the virus. There are immune cells in the body that can resist the virus, and this person has a lower risk of getting the virus again.

New Coronary Pneumonia: New Coronary Pneumonia antibody test can help the authorities identify the number of infected people.  The picture shows one of the streets of New York on April 11th. Some passers-by still choose not to wear masks.  (Getty)

New Coronary Pneumonia: New Coronary Pneumonia antibody test can help the authorities identify the number of infected people. The picture shows one of the streets of New York on April 11th. Some passers-by still choose not to wear masks. (Getty)

The importance of antibody testing

Columbia University virologist Angela Rasmussen pointed out that the authorities still do not know exactly the number of people currently infected, so from the epidemiological perspective, such serological tests are very important.

Antibody testing can detect the presence of antibodies in the people to determine who is immune and the spread of the virus in the population. “New York Times” pointed out that because 25% to 50% of patients with new coronary pneumonia may never or only mild symptoms, antibody testing can identify these people.

新冠肺炎:抗體檢測能驗出民眾是否存在抗體,以確定誰人免疫,及病毒在人群中的傳播程度。 圖為4月11日戴上口罩的民眾在紐約一家店外排隊等候進入(Getty)

New Coronary Pneumonia: Antibody testing can detect the presence of antibodies in the people to determine who is immune and the spread of the virus in the population. The picture shows people wearing masks waiting in line outside a store in New York on April 11 (Getty)

↓↓↓ If you want to see the pictures of the epidemic around the world, please click to enlarge to watch:

美國新冠肺炎疫情:疫情令許多人痛失家人,其中布朗(Sandy Brown)的丈夫和兒子因感染新冠肺炎死亡。圖為布朗4月10日在密歇根弗林特的墓地向她的親友揮手。(AP)
美國新冠肺炎疫情:圖為4月10日,布朗在密歇根弗林特的殯儀館撫摸她丈夫遺體的額頭。(AP)
美國新冠肺炎疫情:美國空軍雷鳥飛行表演隊4月11日在拉斯維加斯進行飛行表演,以此顯示他們對前線醫護人員和急救人員的支持。(AP)
秘魯新冠肺炎疫情:圖為4月11日,一名戴口罩、推着購物車的男子要求路邊一名跪地祈禱的女子讓路。因為她妨礙他進入超市。(AP)
美國新冠肺炎疫情:羅斯科村附近一間酒吧外一幅牆上寫有「芝加哥保持堅強」。圖為4月11人,一名戴口罩的男子和一名戴口罩的孩子經過這幅牆。(AP)
立陶宛新冠肺炎疫情:圖為4月11日,一名信徒在維爾紐斯一間教堂附近的街道祈禱。(AP)

How to apply antibody detection?

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an infectious disease expert, explained that antibody testing helps to understand and assess the spread and penetration of the new coronavirus in society.

Many analysts believe that this will help the government make decisions, test prevention and control measures, and gain a deeper understanding of the epidemic situation. Those with the “immunization certificate” can take the lead in returning to work. This is especially important for hospitals because they can allocate staff more effectively and continue to care for patients.

新冠肺炎:抗體檢測能讓醫院更有效分配人手,繼續照顧病人。圖為4月11日紐約街頭,有擺設呼籲人們保持社交距離。(Getty)

New Coronary Pneumonia: Antibody testing will enable hospitals to allocate staff more effectively and continue to care for patients. The picture shows the streets of New York on April 11, and there are decorations calling on people to maintain social distance. (Getty)

Worries about antibody detection

As with any test, antibody testing has imperfections. For example, if the virus mutates like a seasonal flu, the existing antibodies may not be effective against the new virus.

The accuracy of the test is also a big problem. Because the new coronavirus antibody looks very similar to other coronavirus antibodies, the test may misidentify the antibody, resulting in false positives, which will make people mistakenly think that they are immune to new coronavirus.

The bigger problem is that having antibodies is not necessarily immune. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University, pointed out that scientists still do not fully understand the protective value of coronavirus antibodies, and having those antibodies does not necessarily mean immunity.

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