Letter: We need blood antibody testing for COVID-19 now
Please scream your head off to get us COVID-19 blood antibody tests ASAP! The reported case numbers of novel coronavirus COVID-19 are almost all from those who were sick enough to get the PCR swab test at the hospital. Meanwhile, perhaps thousands more people just in Eagle County were not sick enough to go to the hospital and have already recovered to the point that the swab test for the active virus will not show that they actually did in fact already have the COVID-19 disease. These people are living in quarantine worrying about passing it along when they may already be immune (myself included — unbelievably frustrating).
Once we know who is immune via a now available blood antibody test, then those people who are already immune can help in high-risk jobs (health workers, first responders, grocery store, delivery to elderly, etc.) and donate plasma to help sick people through convalescent therapy. Telluride and San Miguel County are currently testing all of their residents with a blood test that identifies if anyone has ever had COVID-19, even if they were asymptomatic. The FDA has approved “convalescent therapy,” which is giving the antibody-rich plasma from recovered and healthy people who have already had the virus to those who are sick and at risk of dying. Convalescent therapy has been used for over 100 years and has already been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment during the 1918 Spanish flu as well as the original SARS and MERS coronavirus outbreaks —the same family of viruses as SARS-2, also known as COVID-19.
Since Eagle County was an early hot spot and is also one of the healthiest counties in the country, we have potentially large numbers of healthy people who have already fought off COVID-19 and are immune. We can be a leader in donating plasma, we just need vastly expanded testing to determine who has recovered and is now immune. Imagine how much more hope you can bring to someone who is hospitalized, terrified, and gasping for their next breath by giving them the antibodies that will help them in their life and death struggle — it is a game-changer mentally as well as physically.
We need to move mountains now and use whatever means necessary to get tested. Certainly, we have benefactors like the couple in Telluride that paid for the entire testing regimen there! With proactive science-based attack plans, we can turn the tide against this disease and start helping ourselves make it to the light at the end of the tunnel sooner rather than later.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.