HONOLULU (KHON2) — Imagine being able to tell if someone is immune to COVID-19.
The rapid antibody test does exactly that in less than two minutes.
Lieutenant Governor and State COVID-19 Healthcare Liaison, Dr. Josh Green said the test is a game changer.
“Imagine if you use that test on a bunch of firefighters or nurses, and they were immune. Then we don’t worry. We don’t have to use a lot of PPE. We don’t worry about them getting infected.”
Green believes antibody testing will be a vibrant part of our health care system for the next two years. He said he wants the state to invest in it and he already sent his suggestions to HI-EMA Director Maj. General Kenneth Hara.
“The best way to do this would be to buy several hundred thousand for the state. Test a lot of people and then begin to open up subsections of our economy very easily…I think we should use some of our federal stimulus money or recovery money to ensure our future economically. Because we want to bring tourists back here we just don’t want them to come carrying the virus,” Green said.
Although initial testing would focus on essential workers, Green said it’s something employers could take advantage of to re-open their businesses.
“Let’s say you’re a company and have 30 waitresses and waiters in your shop, in your restaurant. You could get them all tested if you chose to. Then you wouldn’t worry about it spreading. Then you wouldn’t worry about having your people put at risk.”
In four to six weeks, Green said the test will be more readily available. Right now, only three places in Hawaii have it.
Doctors of Waikiki is one of them.
Dr. Alan Wu from Doctors of Waikiki said they had between 5,000 to 6,000 test kits and tested about 200 people Thursday.
“Right now we’re offering this to first responders.”
Wu said he also used the rapid antibody test on his patients who tested positive and had already recovered from COVID-19.
He said almost every one of them had the antibodies that showed they were now immune.
So how did Wu get the rapid antibody test when so many others couldn’t?
“We put in our order far in advance. Actually it’s very difficult to obtain and and we finally received them,” Wu explained.
Wu said first responders can contact them to take a test. They will need to prove they are a first responder to be tested.
Even though the antibody test is creating an opportunity to move forward with recovery, Green said it will still take some time before everyone is immune.
He said the last thing we want is to flatten the curve now only to see a spike again in the fall if someone infected brings COVID-19 back.
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