A test to determine whether or not individuals hold antibodies to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) could be available very soon.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Friday that those tests could be available within a week’s time.
“Within a period of a week or so, we are going to have a relatively large number of tests that are available,” Fauci said. He added that the tests are currently being “validated” by the NIH and FDA.
“As soon as they are validated, they’ll be out there for people to use,” he said.
“If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate strategies about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected,” he added, underscoring the importance of using antibody tests in tandem with those that identify a current infection.
Fauci said that it is imperative to understand how many people have been infected with COVID-19 before lockdown orders across the country can be lifted — whether or not a person exhibited symptoms of the contagious respiratory virus.
“But as we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it’s very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated this society,” he continued. “Because it’s very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected.”
An antibody test is important because it will be able to reveal whether or not a person “is no longer infectious, and tells us that somebody cannot get the virus again,” Associate Chief Medical Officer of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Colleen Kraft, told CNN.
As Americans wonder when stay-at-home orders will be lifted, Fauci said that “certificates of immunity” were a possibility.
“It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not,” he told CNN.
Nationwide, there are at least 492,962 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 18,466 deaths related to the virus.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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