Hoping to get a better idea of how many people have previously been infected with the virus, officials in the US have begun asking asymptomatic residents to test for antibodies.
Los Angeles County will expand coronavirus testing Tuesday to include delivery drivers, rideshare drivers, and taxi drivers even if they’re asymptomatic, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“These are folks that are on the frontlines, helping us get to where we need to go, helping us have food delivered to our homes,” he said.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said 1,000 asymptomatic residents will undergo diagnostic and antibody testing by Friday to evaluate exposure to the virus in the city.
And beginning Tuesday, health workers will start visiting randomly selected homes in two of Georgia’s largest counties to conduct antibody testing through blood samples.
“This investigation will help us estimate the percentage of people in the community who have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19,” the Georgia health department said.
In New York, about 15% of the 7,500 people who have been tested in the state’s antibody study have tested positive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
But the former acting director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told medical news website Stat on Monday those tests are “not ready for prime time.”
“As we learn whether that means you are protected in the future, there could be value in that,” Dr. Richard Besser told Stat reporter Helen Branswell about the tests, but “the science isn’t there yet to be able to say what those tests mean.”
“I worry that people will get a false sense of security and they can change their behavior based on the results of that test, or have a false sense of concern if it’s a test that isn’t detecting protections that they may actually have,” Besser said.
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