Gamechanging antibody testing

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Our nation is under lockdown orders based on scientific models projecting a 3% death rate for victims of COVID-19.

However, antibody testing is showing that the rate of death may be much lower.

Experts on the White House Coronavirus Task Force have been projecting, predicting, adjusting, and advising actions based on the models they have constructed of how the coronavirus will move through and affect the US. Those models, based on the data the scientists have accrued over the last 40 days or so, have impacted every American’s life, bank account, and future.

In the early days of the coronavirus epidemic in the US, scientists worked with the idea that COVID-19 did not arrive in the US until January 2020. From that timeline, the models projected a high death rate based on reported cases and reported deaths.

There was no antibody testing at that time. The president and the governors of 49 states, urging an “abundance of caution,” locked down their economies and their people to “flatten the curve” and avoid the high number of deaths predicted. At this date, over 50,000 Americans have died from the virus and 859,318 cases have been reported.

The models are changing as evidence mounts that the virus has been infecting people in our country much longer, perhaps even since November 2019, raising the possibilities of far more cases in the US than previously thought.  This is a reasonable theory because the Chinese government allowed international travel in and out of Wuhan even as they quarantined Wuhan from the rest of China, and people with flu-like symptoms were treated as having the flu.

There was no coronavirus testing as such, and China was not giving the US good information about their own outbreak of the virus. Antibody testing promises hope that the US will have more accurate infection and recovery numbers in the US.

In fact, extensive antibody testing in the US may show that the lockdowns with the accompanying economic destruction that followed were unwarranted.

Antibody testing

Antibody testing is not used to diagnose COVID-19 in a symptomatic patient, it is used to detect if a person has already had the virus and now has antibodies to the disease. The extrapolation of the testing is suggesting that millions of people in the US have been infected unknowingly by COVID-19, because either they were asymptomatic or attributed their symptoms to a cold or the flu. In fact, the tests are showing that most people do not experience acute symptoms when infected with the virus.

The FDA authorized an antibody test in early April, less than three weeks after statewide lockdowns were enacted. You can see more information on antibody or serology tests here.

One major obstacle to antibody testing is the price. The test can cost $170 to almost $250 and the labs using the Abbot antibody tests are not billing health insurance companies. They will issue a receipt which can then be submitted to the insurance company for reimbursement. The test is paid for online here, and the testing is done at a lab near you. Quest Diagnostics provides for testing.

Update on testing: Quest Diagnostics is now offering the antibody test for $119. Go here to read about.

Results of testing

As the tests are more widely used, results of coronavirus antibody testing are starting to come in. Recently, Stanford University conducted a study in Santa Clara, California.

According to The Hill:

A recent Stanford University antibody study now estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent, a risk far lower than previous World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that motivated isolation policies.

Two other studies in California, one in San Francisco, the other in Bolinas, should have results soon.

Some scientists are critical of the antibody tests, citing false positives, but Governor Andrew Cuomo is using them to help determine his approach to lifting the lockdown in New York.

Results in New York

The number of deaths in New York is not even close to the predictions, and some of that is due to lockdowns and social distancing, but antibody testing is changing the ratio of death to infections drastically.

During a recent press briefing, Cuomo explained:

The testing also can tell you the infection rate in the population — where it’s higher, where it’s lower — to inform you on a reopening strategy. Then when you start reopening, you can watch that infection rate to see if it’s going up and if it’s going up, slow down.”

In mid-March in  New York, the epicenter of the US outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo demanded 30,000 ventilators, new hospitals, and thousands of new beds to handle the coronavirus outbreak. President Trump worked with Cuomo to prepare for the projected number of hospitalizations, ventilators, and beds needed.

Now, the numbers are coming in, with deaths peaking around Easter, April 12th, and they are not close to what was projected. The 100% lockdown of “non-essential” businesses and activities and social distancing surely helped with the numbers, but antibody tests reveal that many more people were exposed than was previously known.

In fact, in a recent study, one of every five New Yorkers tested, possessed antibodies to coronavirus. The test can be extrapolated to the population at large, suggesting that almost 3 million New Yorkers have been exposed to the virus, thus shrinking the death rate to 0.5%.

Watch Cuomo explain the antibody testing results:

One America News asks important questions about antibody testing in the video below.

Watch:

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