Plans for antibody testing in Oklahoma

Plans for antibody testing in Oklahoma-4/20/2020

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -You may start hearing more talk of antibody testing.

It’s the next step in researching the coronavirus.

Let’s go back to ninth grade science to learn just what an antibody is.

“It’s simply what our bodies create as an immune response when a virus enters,” said Jerome Loughridge, Secretary of Health and Mental Health in Oklahoma. “And so the presence of an antibody simply indicates that the virus has been in our body.”

So why would testing for an antibody be useful? Loughridge says there are several reasons.

“Because it measures whether there has been an immune response in someone’s body, that tells us it’s very useful in helping us understand where this virus has traveled,” said Loughridge.

The test is taken by a blood draw, and results take a couple of days.

Loughridge says they've sampled about a thousand people with this test and plan to roll it out across the state.

“As supply grows, we are going to try to roll this out for the most vulnerable populations first,” said Loughridge. “So I think we should all be thinking and expecting to see that first in our long term care facilities, for those who are generally hospitalized, maybe non COVID patients who are hospitalized.”

Loughridge says the antibody test can tell you if you’ve had the virus, but it cannot tell you if you are immune.

“Because this is a novel virus, literally a new virus, we don’t know what level required of antibodies to impart immunity to any one individual,” said Loughridge.

As far as this test being the key to reopening the economy...

“It’s very useful for us as we surveil the population and think about places that we can commence activity, and places where we need to hold off back a little.”

Even though Oklahoma has shown positive results in flattening the curve, Loughridge says that is no reason for people to stop social distancing.

Loughridge says at this point, they do not have an estimated roll out date for when these tests will be distributed across the state.

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