The COVID-19 pandemic caught everyone off guard. It would not be wrong to say that this may be one of the biggest challenges in modern human history.
Most governments and health institutions are struggling to fight back this pandemic. One of the major challenges in stopping the spread of this viral disease has been to figure out who carries it, and who does not.
Unlike most other diseases, a person could be infected by the Coronavirus without showing any symptoms. However, such asymptomatic cases are still at risk of transferring the virus to another healthy person.
Therefore, distinguishing between healthy or immune individuals and infected individuals is of key importance. So far, only PCR tests have been used to detect the presence of the virus, but now, the introduction of antibody tests may prove to be a ray of hope in these dire circumstances.
A major issue with the traditional PCR testing method is that according to one study, they failed to detect 30% of the positive Corona cases. Antibody tests are currently being validated for consistency in results and it is expected that they will be available within a week.
In contrast to the PCR test, antibodies tests do not look for active coronavirus cases, instead, they check for proteins called antibodies which confirm that an individual has already recovered from the disease and now has a certain level of immunity from it. Therefore, these tests are not exactly a replacement for PCR testing; instead, they are intended to be used side by side.
Right now, the tests are not available publicly as they undergo rigorous testing under the US Food and Drug Administration. The goal is to validate some of these antibody tests, being developed by multiple companies, before they are introduced to the public.
Even though, we do not know yet how long an individual stays immune after these antibodies are produced, the testing may still somewhat help with social distancing as people will feel relatively safer knowing they have some level of immunity.