The government’s guidelines to help people practice anti-epidemic rules in everyday life to fight the long-term battle against the new coronavirus should come after antibody testing, an expert said.
The health authorities should conduct antibody testing on sampled groups, analyze the accurate infection, antibody formation rate, and antibody’s duration first, and then determine whether to shift to a “life quarantine system,” he said.
In the U.S., researchers are conducting an extensive study to find out the Covid-19’s antibody formation rate and the infection rate. Stanford University, University of Southern California, and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory are running antibody testing on sampled people across the U.S.
Recently, about 10,000 employees of Major League Baseball’s 27 teams planned to participate in the study to see whether they have been infected with Covid-19 in the past but showed no symptoms.
Professor Choi Kang-won of the Department of Infectious Disease at Myongji Hospital emphasized that Korea should also carry out antibody testing on sampled groups in a YouTube live show, “Corona Fighters Live,” by K-Healthlog, operated by The Korean Doctors’ Weekly, last Friday.
“It is a great success that the number of daily new cases fell below 50 for six consecutive days. But this stemmed from social distancing, rather than people’s development of antibodies,” Choi said. “If we give up social distancing and hastily loosen up, new cases could spike.”
Choi said the government should be very careful about shifting to the life quarantine system and that investigating the proportion of people with antibodies and gradually introducing the life quarantine system will reduce the risk of viral transmission.
Lee Wang-jun, chairman of Myongji Hospital who also heads the Korean Hospital Association’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Headquarters, said a particular district or a city could start antibody testing, rather than the entire country introducing the life quarantine system at once.
“By doing so, we can learn how many people had Covid-19 infection without symptoms and how a local community’s infection progressed,” Lee said. Based on the results of antibody testing, the government should determine the speed of easing social distancing, he added.
Eom Joong-sik, a professor of the Infectious Disease Department of Gachon University Gil Medical Center, also said during the YouTube show that comparing the Covid-19 antibody ratio by region or age would decide future strategies.
Eom noted that healthcare professionals need to get tested for antibodies, in particular. “Depending on they have an antibody or not, their work should become different,” he said.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), said the health authorities were establishing a method to test antibodies of Covid-19.
“As Covid-19 is a new infectious disease, we don’t have accurate, detailed data on how antibodies form after infection, how long the antibody lasts, and how the antibody can prevent reinfection,” she said.
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