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Stanford researchers work to determine whether antibodies prevent you from getting virus again


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – For the last two weeks, Stanford’s new coronavirus antibody test has been in use on health care workers and patients.

“What we have done is after the first week we detect a quarter to a third of infected people with antibodies, as move to second week it’s 65 or 70-percent and by the 3rd week, it’s 90 percent and after 3 weeks almost everybody has antibodies to the new virus,” Dr. Scott Boyd, Stanford University pathology professor, said. 

While they have learned about rates of infection, they have not yet determined what most want to know, whether antibodies prevent you from getting the virus again. 

“Everybody is really hoping the test will tell what your immune status is to the virus,” Robert Siegel, Stanford professor of microbiology and virology, said. 

Stanford University virology professor Robert Siegel says at this point we don’t know the answer to that, but having antibodies does not necessarily mean you are immune.

“With measles if you have antibodies you are immune to measles and won’t be infected again. With HIV, if you test positive for HIV, the virus and antibodies coexist so that means you are infected. For dengue, if you have antibodies, you are at higher risk for infection with a different strain so having antibodies may not protect you but put you are more risk,” Siegel said. 

While medical experts agree all tests are not equally reliable, researchers at Stanford are hopeful in time we will have the answers we need.

“I think we are in the process of getting a better snapshot how Americans are responding to this virus but this is happening on a fast forward time scale very different than most medical research, but my guess is we will have better idea before long but we are in the learning stages right now,” Boyd said. 

Stanford is also working on a second test to determine if those who have antibodies have immunity.

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