By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Officials with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota announced that they will be releasing a coronavirus serology test Monday, April 6. The antibody test will determine whether a person has been infected.
Testing currently available, known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, can pick up the presence of viral nucleic acid.
This involves collecting cells from the back of the throat or nasal passages of patients to detect genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
So what is a coronavirus serology test, or antibody test and why are they important?
This kind of testing involves looking for the patient’s immune response to the virus in blood samples. Specifically, these tests track down antibodies, which are small proteins created by the immune system in the process of fighting off a disease. Antibodies can be particular for one kind of disease or sometimes a disease-type, and can provide a window into a patient’s infection history. The ability to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 can reveal whether a patient has had COVID-19, even if they were never diagnosed or never felt sick.
Sometimes called a “game-changer”, Mayo’s Dr. Eliza Theel says “Bottom line, it’s able to tell us whether or not an individual has developed this immune response for the virus”.
Having a serologic test may provide the opportunity to tell, for example, whether health care workers have developed immunity. Although such health care workers would still be required to wear personal protective equipment, they would be at lower risk for getting re-infected, compared to health care workers who do not have this immunity.
In addition, the PCR test nasal or throat sample must be collected with a medical swab, which is now in short supply. “The test is done in a routine blood draw,” Dr. Theel said.
The antibody tests, or ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) tests are high-throughput assays used throughout laboratory medicine.
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