The hunt is on for immunity from COVID-19.
Stanford Health Care is hoping a new test will help determine if some of its staff have a lower risk of contracting the virus. The research could prove critical for every health care worker during the crisis.
Some Stanford Health Care workers are already being tested. The test aims to answer two questions: who has already contracted COVID-19 and whether surviving the virus makes people safer when dealing with others who have it.
Santa Clara University Public Health Prof. H. Westley Clark called antibody research, such as the tests at Stanford and UCSF, a game changer.
“If you can’t get reinfected, hopefully you can’t infect anybody else,” he said. “Again, new frontier we’re dealing with, a new virus we’re dealing with. So what you have academia doing, what you have public health authorities doing, is trying to capture information about that frontier so that we can help the public.”
Renowned infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong of UCSF agreed, saying antibody information from UCSF, Stanford and private research will help in predicting situations rather than just reacting.
“So far we don’t have good prediction models for who gets really sick when everyone is kind of in the beginning, so maybe those who have antibodies early may help protect them from getting sick later on," he said. "So, it might be of prognostic value.”
It is too early to tell if exposure to COVID-19 actually provides any immunity through antibodies.