An antibody test unveiled by the Mayo Clinic and its corporate partners will be able to determine "neutralizing" antibodies for COVID-19, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
While the test itself will not give conclusive proof for an "immunity passport" amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is the first commercially available test that will help identify the level of neutralizing antibodies in the blood stream and may be useful in answering the scientific question of the level of antibodies required to provide protection from infection, according to the report.
"This is more reassuring than just . . . a positive [antibody test] to show you have been previously exposed to the virus," Vyriad CEO Dr. Stephen Russell told the Star Tribune. "This test is showing what level of protection you actually have."
The test was created by his Rochester, Minnesota, company and was provided to the Mayo Clinic with a licensing partnership with Regeneron, per the report.
Neutralizing antibodies against COVID-19 are the proteins produced after infection, potentially providing protection from reinfection. This test homes in on those key proteins, the Star Tribune reported.
"It's been kind of the story for antibody testing from Day One," Mayo's Dr. Elitza Theel told the paper. "There was a lot of excitement, as there should have been, but at the same time we didn't really understand the role of antibody testing, and I think there was, to some extent, overexcitement.
"But with the neutralizing antibody test, I would view this as another step, another tool that we can use to better understand our immune response to [the virus]."
The test will be available in late June, and could be used to determine who most needs a COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available in initially limited supply.
"You do not want to be giving people low concentrations of antibodies," Vyriad's Russell told the Star Tribune. "You thereby run a risk of making things worse. So having a test for neutralizing antibodies that can discriminate between low, intermediate, and high [levels] is pretty important."
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