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Stanford develops new antibody test for COVID-19

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STANFORD, Calif. (KRON) — Researchers at Stanford medicine have tested more than 3,000 people for antibodies against COVID-19.

The new test looks at immunity, it will show who’s been exposed to the virus or not.

This is different from the swab tests we’re used to seeing that reveals if you have COVID-19. This antibody test is a blood test that can reveal if people are immune to the virus and can return to work.

With a prick of a finger, this test looks for antibodies for COVID-19 and can return results as soon as 15 minutes.

Researchers at Stanford medicine developed an antibody test also known as serological tests on Monday and has since taken blood samples from more than 3200 people for a study last week.

“We think it will all be useful in certain situations for people who are returning to work like health care workers and wanting to make sure that they’re immune and might go in certain situations more readily than people who are not immune,” Dr. George Rutherford said.

Rutherford, an epidemiology professor at UCSF says the test can show how the disease is spread through populations.

It’s one of dozens of commercial serological tests being developed around the world.

Stanford is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Rutherford says UCSF developed an antibody test late last week that’s still under surveillance.

“There are a lot of commercial tests that have flooded the market and nobody really understands false positive or false negative,” he said. “How they perform relative to each other. If we’re giving people test results, we don’t want them to be falsely positive.”

Medical experts say antibody positivity likely means a person has recovered from the virus and cannot be reinfected.

Because the test screens for antibodies to the virus in plasma, the liquid in blood, the results can help determine if plasma donors may serve as a possible treatment for those who are seriously ill from COVID-19.

Stanford experts are determining who will receive the antibody test. Health care workers and others who work in the hospital are being prioritized. The hope is to expand testing capacity.

Results from the test study should come in one to two weeks.

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