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How testing for coronavirus immunity could help with health and the economy

SCAN is looking to send at-home test kits. (Greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network)

While finding a vaccine for coronavirus is a major priority at the moment, researchers are also looking into creating a blood test to reveal if people have developed immunity to the virus.

CBS medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook explained why such a test is just as important.

“This is the single most [important] thing that I’m talking about right now in terms of something we can do differently. So Florian Kramer is a PhD microbiologist at Mount Sinai, and he has already developed an antibody test to see whether you have had the infection,” LaPook said. “Remember that PCR test with the nasal swab? That’s if you have it. But we need to know, is there evidence that you had it in the past?”

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If it was determined that somebody had an immunity, it would be practical to have them work in the front lines, where those who hadn’t yet been through coronavirus might be more vulnerable.

“Are there people out there who had it and then perhaps are immune? Those are people who we could send to the front lines potentially, because they would be presumably protected,” Dr. LaPook said.

The other reason this is crucial is because developing such a test, and applying it to the workforce, might mean we wouldn’t have to choose between fighting coronavirus and saving the economy to the extreme degree that we are at the moment.

“Right now, we’re talking about this war between, you know, do you spend all the resources to fight the disease or to help save the economy? You can do both, and you have to do both, and this could be a way that we could really get there,” he said.

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Though still being explored, the test would ideally be no more difficult than the measles, mumps, and rubella tests done every year. Dr. LaPook said it’s simply a matter of moving forward with the funding and regulations.

“But I think this is the single most important thing to do right this second that we’re maybe not doing,” he said.

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