The state has acquired 200,000 antibody test kits and will first provide them to hospitals, Gov. Ron DeSantis said. The tests will enable doctors, nurses and other health care workers to determine whether they have been exposed to coronavirus and are potentially immune to the disease.
TO OUR READERS: This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Palm Beach Post. If you want breaking coronavirus news directly in your inbox, sign up for our Coronavirus Newsletter.
Antibody testing to determine whether a person has been exposed to coronavirus will soon be available at some drive-in test sites now performing tests to identify those actively infected with the disease, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a press conference Tuesday morning.
The state has acquired 200,000 antibody test kits and will first provide them to hospitals, DeSantis said. The tests will enable doctors, nurses and other health care workers to determine whether they have been exposed to coronavirus and are potentially immune to the disease.
"They’re finding that the number of cases is one thing but the number of those with the antibody is far, far in excess of the number of people who have actually tested positive with a diagnostic test," DeSantis said. "The vast majority of cases appear to be asymtomatic or the symptoms were so minor that you would not necessarily think to get medical attention."
Separate lanes will be added at existing drive-through public test sites to keep those actively ill away from those seeking antibody tests. Experts say it takes about two weeks after being exposed to coronavirus to detect antibodies in the blood.
DeSantis plans to release more details about the state’s antibody testing later this week. Also unknown is the manufacturer of the test the state has purchased as well as the test’s accuracy.
After widespread reports questioning the accuracy of some coronavirus antibody tests allowed to hit the market without rigorous testing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it now wants proof that the tests are accurate.
Under the new policy released by the FDA on Monday, commercial antibody test manufacturers must submit data validating the accuracy of their test within 10 days of applying for emergency authorization to sell the test.
The new policy puts some bite into a March 16 policy that waived stringent test requirements normally needed for FDA approval of drugs and tests. The flexibility was needed at the time to quickly gather information on the spread if the disease, prevalence of carriers without symptoms and identifying potential plasma donors with the antibody to treat severe cases, according to the FDA website.
Manufacturers seeking FDA authorization for their tests are required to file emergency-use applications with some data validating the test’s accuracy. However, some test developers advertised their test as FDA authorized without obtaining emergency use permission from the FDA.
A recent study by the COVID-19 Testing Project found that of the 14 tests they tested, only three delivered consistently reliable results.
To date, the FDA has authorized only 12 antibody tests. Over 200 antibody tests are currently under review.
In Palm Beach County, antibody blood tests are being performed in doctors’ offices and parking lots behind clinics. The rapid tests involve a drop of blood from a pin prick. Results are available within 20 minutes.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
>>Coronavirus cases worldwide: An interactive look
>>What does the coronavirus infection do inside your body?
VIDEO: Coronavirus vs the flu
For more information:
– Florida Department of Health coronavirus web page
– CDC coronavirus web page
– Florida DOH coronavirus hotline (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday) is 866-779-6121 or email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org