There is some reason in the US for optimism in the middle of this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. I wrote earlier this week the absolute need for an antibody-based test for widespread public screening, to assess antibody responses to get a picture of who has been exposed to the virus and has generated an immune response against it. In addition to exposure, another urgent question is how many of the population are asymptomatic, and with the orthogonal technology of rRT-PCR to molecularly test for active virus infection, much can be learned about the natural course of COVID-19 disease and the spread of SARS-CoV-2 worldwide.
Dr. Birx said yesterday (here’s the YouTube link at the beginning of her remarks at a little over an hour in) talking about high-risk and low-risk counties, and importantly about the status of an antibody-based test. She talks about contact tracing expertise from the CDC, and discusses the need for POCT (point-of-care testing) beyond existing ELISA technology.
One interesting point was that SARS (“Classic”) antibodies cross-react ‘well’ to SARS-CoV-2. Another point she brings up is that contact tracing is ongoing now, just not well-publicized. She pointed out that the capability exists to have a ‘laser-focused’ approach (down to GPS coordinates) to get information on the spread in near real-time.
Vice President Pence indicated ’15 days to slow the spread’ campaign was to buy time for this kind of activity in the background. Also he pointed out (around 40′ into the press conference) that Abbott Laboratories ‘submitted today to the FDA’ an application for an antibody POCT for SARS-CoV-2 immunity / evidence of exposure. It is very likely on the iStat platform, as it currently is FDA approved for several blood metabolites using ELISA chemistry in a handheld device.
If we are on the verge of widespread contact tracing next week, I thought it appropriate to adapt this infographic from a German newsweekly called Die Ziet that I was able to obtain a good translation. (If you can read German the original graphic is found here.)
Here’s a link to the infographic as a PDF, and the image is below.