ATLANTA — What are antibodies and why would we want to test for them in a large portion of the population during the novel coronavirus pandemic?
Antibodies, which are proteins that help fight off infections and diseases, are like the building blocks of your immune system. Each antibody currently in your system was created in response to an infection you’ve had at some point in your lifetime.
Our immune systems respond by creating specific antibodies that destroy a virus or pathogen.
But the virus that causes COVID-19 is different because it’s a “novel virus,” meaning new. There isn’t a single person on the planet who already had COVID-19 antibodies, meaning none of us already had them to help our immune systems fight it.
Ultimately, our bodies now have to create their own new virus-fighting proteins to destroy the coronavirus.
So what about the actual antibody tests?
In New York, preliminary results from phase one of the state’s antibody tests showed 13.9 percent of their population has COVID-19 antibodies.
As for Georgia, survey teams will visit randomly selected homes in Fulton and DeKalb counties between April 28 and May 4, asking residents about their health and to voluntarily submit blood samples for antibody tests.
Although there’s still not enough evidence to suggest accuracy of “immunity passports," testing a person’s blood for COVID-19 antibody presence can not only show how many people have been infected with the novel virus but also who may already have immune systems primed to potentially fight re-infection.
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