The United States is the world’s new COVID-19 epicenter, with a high number of cases surpassing that of China and Italy. Laboratories around the world are working round the clock, to conduct COVID-19 tests. With a large number of infected patients, the number of tests conducted are not enough to cope with the huge demand. Restrictions are currently in place to encourage people to stay at home as much as possible and to practice social distancing and reduce the spread of infection. Research, however, has shown that there are people who could be safe to go back to work so long that they are proven to have immunity to COVID-19. This can be done through serology testing, an antibody testing tool that can determine who has developed an immune response to SARS-COV-2.
What is Serology Testing?
A serology test can detect the presence of antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, in the blood that is produced by the body as an immunity response to infections. Different types of immunoglobulins are produced to fight the different types of infections. This means that an antibody that is produced by the body to fight against chickenpox, for example, will not be the same antibody to fight against SARS-CoV-2.
At present, little is known about the immune response to SARS-CoV-2. The degree of immunity to reinfection that may be afforded by antibodies is still uncertain and requires more research and testing.
How can Serology Testings Help the Community?
In the initial stages of an infection, the infected patient’s body is still building his immunity system. As such, there is a chance that antibodies may not be detected and hence, serology tests should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Despite the limited effect of serological testing to diagnose possible infections, serology testing is a great tool that can identify individuals who have developed an immune response to the virus, either as part of an active infection or a prior infection. It can also help determine the people who may qualify for a vaccination once it is available. Lastly, such tests can identify recovered patients to see if they can donate plasma as a potential treatment for people with severe forms of the disease caused by COVID-19.
How Can Serology Help the United States deal with the Impact Of COVID-19?
A serology test can detect the presence of antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, in the blood that are produced by the body as an immune response to infections. Different types of immunoglobulins are produced to fight different types of infections. This means that antibodies that are produced by the body to fight against chickenpox, for example, will not be the same antibodies we need to fight against COVID-19. And not every antibody your body makes to a specific virus actually neutralizes the virus – some are just ‘noise in the system.’
At present, we are learning more and more almost on a daily basis about the natural immune response to COVID-19. While the degree of immunity to reinfection afforded by COVID-19 IgG antibodies currently is uncertain, and requires more research, it is very likely that we will be able to definitively predict COVID-19 immunity from your DBS test within 3-6 months.
And when scientists DO find out – you will be among the first to know.
In the meantime, such tests can identify recovered COVID-19 patients who might be suitable candidates for donating plasma to help people with severe forms of COVID-19 disease. That’s actually where the word “serology” comes in. A hundred years ago “serum” – concentrated plasma from folks who had recovered from diptheria, an often fatal throat infection – was the only effective way to treat diphtheria outbreaks.
People who have visited New York City’s Central Park may be familiar with a statue of Balto – “The Bravest Dog who Ever Lived.” In 1925, Balto was the lead dog on a sled that carried diptheria serum over 800 miles from Anchorage to Nome in record time to save the lives of the children of Nome, Alaska.
EnMed MicroAnalytics Offers COVID-19 Testing Solutions
EnMed MicroAnalytics, Inc. (EnMed) is certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments [CLIA], and led by Edwin Naylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., a High-Complexity CLIA-certified Lab Director. Our serological tests are trusted by many healthcare professionals. We specialize in minimally invasive screening of children, adults, the elderly and others with or without underlying medical conditions for exposure to COVID-19. EnMed offers the only screening tool for detecting COVID-19 antibodies that may be self-administered and then shipped in a simple, recyclable box – or just a sealed envelope. Join us in the fight against COVID-19. Contact EnMed MicroAnalytics today!