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Commissioner: New antibody tests could be game-changer

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Posted at 7:19 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 08:20:02-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new COVID-19 test is in the works, but the results would let you know if you are immune to the virus. The state hopes to see its first batch of antibody tests within the next week or two. It has already been approved by the FDA, but according to Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, it's not in production or on the market yet.

There are two major reasons this test is getting a lot of attention.

They identify whether a person is immune, which would allow people to return to work if they are unable to contract the virus. Also, those who are tested and have recovered may be able to donate plasma to treat people with severe cases of Coronavirus. At Governor Bill Lee's Wednesday afternoon briefing, the Tennessee Health Commissioner said this test is a step in the right direction.

“This will absolutely change the testing game,” Piercey said. “Most of these antibody tests are finger sticks, some of them are blood draw. But they have results pretty quickly, usually 15 minutes, on the spot. It does help us know which ones are more likely to be immune to the virus and can move about freely.”

Many companies are working on their own antibody tests, including one business in Tennessee. Piercey urged any company that is producing tests to begin the FDA approval process to make it available to the state. The FDA recently fast-tracked the approval of some treatments due to COVID-19.

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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.

Prevention

The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.