Knowing whether you’ve had the virus or not may not just reduce your need to panic- but also better help epidemiologists map out the spread of the virus. Now, Henry Schein Inc, the world’s largest distributor of dental and medical supplies, has released an antibody rapid blood test that can tell you if you’ve had the coronavirus before. And it does this in less than 15 minutes.
Known as Standard Q COVID-19 IgM/IgG Rapid Test, it is a rapid immunochromatography test designed to detect specific IgM and IgG antibodies associated with the novel coronavirus from blood drawn by a pinprick. Detecting the presence of these antibodies, when taken with other information including the presence of symptoms and medical history, the test allows medical professionals to tell whether a person has already been infected by the virus, and whether they may be currently infected by it too.
Currently available under emergency guidance by the US Food and Drug Administration, Stanley M Bergman, chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein said, “This pandemic is an unprecedented situation, and making rapid diagnostic tools available to health care professionals is critical for detecting and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.”
Other private companies have also begun selling blood tests capable of detecting coronavirus antibodies. For example, California-based Biomerica sells its tests for less than $10, and has already had orders placed from Europe and the Middle East. Chembio Diagnostics from New York has reportedly received an order for $4 million- worth of antibody tests against the virus, while South Korean test maker, Sugantech, is also reportedly producing tests.
Meanwhile, researchers are also investigating the viability of antibody tests. Fatima Amanat, a PhD candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is currently developing tests for first responders and healthcare providers in particular. She said, “Right now, if you have a highly infectious COVID-19 patient, it's really a problem to send a nurse who is not immune to it already because she’s so susceptible. Our test would be for all the doctors and healthcare providers, to see if they're already immune to it and have antibodies.”