When to Reopen the Country? Antibody Tests May Hold the Key

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —  As many parts of the nation prepare for what might be a “peak” infection or death, the issue of antibody testing is being discussed more.

Dr. Becky Dutch is a professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at the University of Kentucky. We asked her about this type of testing.

“You need those active infection tests but you also need the serology tests who has had it. So a serology test looks for what is called antibodies. They are a part of our immune reaction to an infectious disease.”

Dutch says COVID-19 antibodies will let doctors know if a patient has had the virus and whether or not the patient has developed an immunity to the virus. 

“So if I got an antibody and it said I had it and I’ve had an a-symptomatic infection for me I would feel confident in going out and not be concerned about reinfection at this point.”

Knowing if a person has antibodies to COVID-19 is a powerful piece of information as cities and states work to determine when to ease up on public restrictions. 

Infection Disease specialist, Dr. Benjamin Klausing with Baptist Health says the information will be very helpful. 

“It’s one thing among many we should be using to determine when best to open the economy when best to get the country going. Right now the antibody test is still in its infancy.”

Doctors across the country are currently racing to develop reliable antibody tests. 

Dutch says it is a process and it takes time.

“Right now they are not widely available at all.” The University of Kentucky and UK Healthcare are working to change that.

“That’s one of the things. We have a whole series of things we are trying to do to make sure we, do the very best we can do to meet both our immediate community, our healthcare and then the wider Kentucky community.”