In order to get a leg up on the coronavirus pandemic, one of two things will need to happen: We’ll need either a vaccine, or a way to test for antibodies.
The vaccine is an obvious choice, especially when we’re dealing with a virus that likes to spread via asymptomatic carriers, or folks who’ve already developed the antibodies to COVID-19, rendering them “recovered”.
In the absence of a vaccine, the antibody tests could provide people with a way to know that they’ve already “beaten” the virus once, some without even realizing it. Those who test positive for the antibodies could then return to the workforce at a far lesser risk to the rest of the population…at least, in theory.
In New York City, the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, antibody testing has already begun. The results have been eye opening, to say the least.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed Thursday that preliminary results from a coronavirus antibody study show the statewide infection rate is 13.9 percent, which would mean around 2.7 million residents could have carried the disease.
The 3,000 samples were collected from 40 sites in 19 counties, according to Cuomo, and suggested the infection rate is as high as 21.2 percent in places like New York City.
“These are people who were infected and who developed the antibodies to fight the infection,” Cuomo said. “They had the virus, they developed the antibodies and they are now ‘recovered’.”
The governor says the testing was conducted at sites set up outside places like grocery and box stores.
“These are people who were out and about shopping,” Cuomo said. “They were not people who were in their home, they are not people who are isolated, they are not people who are quarantined — who you could argue probably had a lower rate of infection because they wouldn’t come out of the house.”
And while antibody testing certainly won’t be the end-all, be-all of the virus fight, this is precisely the sort of data that could bring us ever closer to returning to whatever “normal” is going to look like in the future.
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