Story at a glance
- The tests could identify those with immunity to the virus.
- Fauci said the tests could help determine whether previously infected people are vulnerable to reinfection.
- Antibody tests would be used in parallel with tests that identify current COVID-19 infections.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert says widespread antibody tests that would confirm whether a person was recently infected with the new novel coronavirus will be available in the coming days.
“Within a period of a week or so, we’re going to have a rather large number of tests that are available,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s “New Day” Friday.
Instead of detecting the virus itself, the tests identify antibodies the immune system generates to fight COVID-19. The tests could determine who has contracted the disease and recovered.
Fauci said health officials can then determine how deeply the virus has “penetrated the society,” and whether previously infected people would be vulnerable to reinfection, which he said is particularly “important for health care workers.”
“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,” Fauci said.
Antibody tests would be used in parallel with tests that identify current infections, Fauci told CNN.
The U.S. currently leads the world in the number of confirmed cases with more than 466,000, with more than 16,700 deaths as of Friday morning.
Models by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimate more than 60,400 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by August, a significant drop of the model’s initial estimate of more than 82,000.
The model claims the U.S. is set to reach its highest daily number of deaths Sunday, with more than 2,200.
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