Blood test could determine immunity response to COVID-19

Coronavirus

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave an emergency authorization to rapid blood tests for COVID-19, in typical times a test of this nature could take half a year to get approval but medical professionals are working overdrive to better understand the virus.

The medical practice, “Doctors of Waikiki” are expecting the blood test to arrive anytime now, they said delays due the virus affected the shipment. Dr. Tony Trpkovski, said a blood test will determine if COVID-19 antibodies are present in a person’s body.

“All of the tests we are using now even the nose swab test, those are all emergency use authorization from the FDA,” Trpkovski said. “At least we will have an idea that you have been exposed and you might have immunity, and then we could check people with a PCR test to make sure they are not infectious.”

He said the antibody test would accompany the PCR test done through a nose swab. The doctor said a drop of blood could answer if the virus is present or was at one point active, it could also give a glimpse of patients immune response within minutes.

Trpkovski said our bodies build immunity when we come across viruses and bacteria, he said he expects a similar response with COVID-19.

He said, “Based on science, we know how viruses and bacteria respond and so this shouldn’t be anything different, it should be like every other virus.”

Last month, Hawaii State Department of Health officials raised concerns the antibody test could give false negatives at a senate committee hearing. The administrator of the state’s laboratory, Dr. Edward Desmond, said it could take days or weeks for COVID-19 antibodies to show.

“You might not have an antibody yet, it might not develop for up to 20 days after the infection, Dr. Desmond said. “So if you’re sick and you got the virus, but the antibody test is negative… that’s what we call a false negative.”

Dr. Trpkovski said antibody testing would not replace the current nose swab, but it could provide more information about the virus and disease.

At this point, the tests are new and medical practices such as Doctors of Waikiki are not able to charge the cost to insurance companies, it is likely it will be an out of pocket expense once those tests become available in the state.

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