The biggest and most mortal pandemic the human race has ever experienced is still harrowing the humankind. We all are doing our best to stop the affliction rate but still, the active number of cases is increasing at a rapid speed. In this fight, to date, only tests have been a promising weapon. Testing helps keep the number of positives in check and from increasing by a chain reaction. Where the traditional RT-PCR diagnostic tests are expensive, takes way too much time other alternative testing methods are required.
Antibody tests or serological tests look for the presence of antibodies in the body which is produced by the immune system of the body to fight against the virus. The test is used to detect any past infection and the chances of again being infected.
Testing has been a very important tool during this whole pandemic. Testing has made the enemy visible and it has to an extent made clear what we are fighting against. Until now antibody tests were just used to pick up the presence of antibodies but now with new developments, the extent of these antibody proteins can also be measured.
How this is important?
The level of antibodies produced in the body determines whether the patient had developed immunity or not. Antibodies tests also help in trials of vaccines. Promising candidates are needed to examine if the vaccine is producing the right amount of antibodies in the patient’s body. It can be difficult for the serological test to pick an infection in the early stage. Antibodies last for a longer time in the bodies. So, it works best in the case of antibody tests.
A positive antibody result indicates that a person had an infection in past. If there are no symptoms of a present infection that means that patient has fought the virus on. Under these circumstances, it can be presumed that a person would be immune to the virus now.
FDA approved the antibody tests for COVID-19 under the dire conditions. Antibody tests can help identify a population who no longer at the risk of getting infected directly. This could allow people to return to work and necessary positions who are immune to a level from the disease. Health workers, essential workers, and officials can return to work and help the community as well as their families.
Although how long the immunity lasts is not concrete and it will depend upon many factors like lifestyle, individual health condition, individual immunity, and antibody levels. It also depends on the virus. If under any circumstances COVID-19 virus mutates and overcomes the immune human bodies has developed patient is under the risk of getting infected again.
Prolonged observation of recovered patients can help to deduce the response of immunity towards the virus.
Antibody tests can help us lift the strict lockdowns
Antibody tests are efficient and fast which will help in calculating what portion of the population was infected and the extent of that infection whether it was mild or severe. It would also help in drafting the data according to the area as the antibody test can b done in herds. It would tell which areas are under severe attack and which are not. This will help in lifting the lockdowns and restrictions in the areas accordingly.
It will also help in determining who are up to returning to normal day to day tasks or traveling overseas.
Benefits of antibody test-
- Antibody tests reveal cases that were infected but didn’t know it. This will help in the control of the unwitting spread of the virus. The knowledge of how common the virus is still unknown.
- The serologically immune people can volunteer back to work because it is rather likely that they would transmit the virus or get infected again. People can return to work and can have more freedom regarding the movement in the community.
- Serologically immune patients can help in treatment and vaccine research as their blood contains plasma which has strong antibodies. Antibody therapies involve deriving convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin from the blood of recovered patients to provide immunity to infected people. Recovered people can even donate blood to people with severe diseases.
- Antibody tests have clinical utility and people like front line workers, medical workers, health care workers, industry workers, police staff can get tested and return to work.
- Large scale antibody tests can be used to assess better the extent of the spread of the virus. This algorithm can be used to curate a relative strategy to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It can help determine if we are heading towards herd immunity.
Antibody tests will tell us if we are moving towards herd immunity
An antibody test tells if the COVID-19 virus dissolving proteins are present in the body. The increasing number of population with higher antibodies intents that virus will no longer be able to reproduce and will lead us to back to normalcy.
How is the test performed?
The test is done on a sample of blood. The sample is tested for 14 respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The test can take generally up to two hours to complete.