Head of UW virology says lab is making ‘great strides’ on COVID-19 anti-body test

SEATTLE, Wash. — Public health officials at the University of Washington School of Medicine said they are making great strides on a COVID-19 anti-body test.

Keith Jerome, head of the UW virology lab, said the test is for those who have recovered from COVID-19 and will play a vital role in knowing who can get back into the community without spreading the virus.

Jerome said these anti-bodies from COVID-19 should help protect patients from catching the virus again, but said it is still possible. However, he said a second infection would not be as severe as the first.

According to Jerome, the test has been accurate in identifying COVID-19, as well as other viruses in the body. He said the test has been detecting the virus at a high probability in patients who have had the virus and has not been showing any false-positives.

The test is taken through a blood sample with a needle into the arm. The anti-body instrument can run between 3,000 and 4,000 tests per day.

Jerome said the test would be able to provide answers to those who were severely sick in February and wondering if they may have had coronavirus.

That said, the test is not for everyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 right now. Jerome said this is because it takes time to develop antibodies.

For now, tests must be requested by healthcare providers and will be available in Western Washington as early as next week.

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19: A breakdown of the latest numbers in Washington and Idaho