May 8, 2020

How UA antibody testing can aid Arizona’s response to the coronavirus

The initiative aims to test more than 250,000 first responders and health care workers across the state.

As antibody testing in Arizona ramps up, we learned more about how the results can aid the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic from University of Arizona researcher and immunologist Deepta Bhattacharya.

“One of the most important things is it will give you a sense as to how widespread the virus is within our state and within local communities,” Bhattacharya said. “And then, unfortunately, once the second wave hits, I think we’ll get a little bit of a better sense as to how many antibodies do you actually need to protect you from getting reinfected.”

Bhattacharya also explained how researchers are trying to reduce false positives.

“Our test produces a number and that allows us to set very strict statistical thresholds to make sure we’re not getting very many false positives. That does come at the expense of false negatives and we decided that was the lesser of two evils,” Bhattacharya said. “So that if you have some low levels of antibodies there’s a reasonable chance that our test will call you negative.”

Arizona 360
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