Scientists Concerned With Current State Of Coronavirus Antibody Testing

(ThePatriotSource.Com)- Antibody tests are going to be critical to getting the United States back to normal during the coronavirus pandemic, according to many leaders in the medical community.
And while companies have been making progress toward getting the tests ready, some top scientists don’t have such a rosy picture of where things stand right now.
Apparently, there are issues with reliability and availability of the antibody tests in America right now, according to members of the National Academy of Sciences’ Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.
Dr. David Relman, a member of the committee, described the antibody tests this way:
“In three words: Work in progress.”
There isn’t just one issue with the antibody tests being developed, either. When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed rules, it allowed companies to sell the tests without having to submit data that shows the tests really work. That has resulted in “crappy” tests hitting the market, according to the American Public Health Lab Association.
Many of the companies that are making the tests are actually based in China.
Relman also said there’s concern that some of the tests could confuse antibodies from the current coronavirus that causes COVID-19 with several other coronaviruses that only cause the common cold. The fear is the tests could say someone had the antibodies from the coronavirus causing the current pandemic, when in fact they didn’t.
The NAS wrote a letter to the White House about the quality of the tests recently. It read, in part:
“[The tests] should be viewed as a suspect until rigorous controls are performed and performance characteristics described, as antibody detection methods can vary considerably, and most so far have not described well-standardized controls.”
There are some good tests out there, the scientists said, but they’re not as easily available in the U.S. just yet.
But perhaps the biggest question about the antibody testing isn’t about whether they work — eventually, that will get cleared up — but whether having the antibodies means a person is immune from COVID-19 in the future.
“That’s the $64 question. Does antibody level equate to resistance to getting ill again?” questioned NAS Chairman Dr. Harvey Fineberg. “Everybody wants to know — am I immune? Can I now visit grandma so that I’m not a threat to her and she’s not a threat to me? How do we discern the people who can now safely go out and about? That’s an important personal and social question.”
NAS members held a call with members of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on April 6, and the scientists were pleased with the genuine interest and care from the White House officials.
Fineberg specifically praised Kelvin Droegemeier, the White House policy office’s director:
“That’s the brilliance of Kelvin Droegemeier, to elicit this kind of input and turn to the academics in the first place. They’re genuinely trying to widen their aperture for advice, and I think so far it’s working.”