Test for Coronavirus Antibodies Approved by FDA

FRIDAY, April 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The first coronavirus virus antibody test for use in the United States has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The test checks for protective antibodies in a finger prick of blood, revealing whether a patient has ever been exposed to the coronavirus and now may have some immunity, The New York Times reported.

That's an important difference from current tests, which look for fragments of coronavirus genes that indicate an ongoing infection.

There are a number of reasons why the new test is important. It may show that it's safe for people who are immune to the coronavirus to leave their homes and rejoin the workforce, and knowing whether they have coronavirus antibodies may be especially crucial for healthcare workers, The Times reported.

Also, antibody testing could provide a better idea of how widespread coronavirus infection is in the population and improve calculation of the death rate.

"If we don't know the asymptomatic or mild cases, we won't know if it's killing a sizable fraction of the people who have it, or only people who have underlying conditions or are very unlucky," Dr. Carl Bergstrom, infectious diseases expert, University of Washington in Seattle, told The Times.

China, Singapore and a few other countries already use coronavirus antibody tests.

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