Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Antibody testing would help Minnesotans find out if their illness was COVID-19

If rolled out to the public, it could help determine if your illness was COVID-19 or something else.
Author:

Minnesota may be close to gaining a step on the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus through antibody testing that could detect if a person has already had COVID-19. 

Antibody testing would allow Minnesotans who have been left to wonder if their respiratory symptoms were from COVID-19 or something else, and work is underway at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota to bring such a test to market.

It's unclear how many Minnesotans have tried to get tested for the virus only to be denied due to an ongoing shortage in testing supplies and capacity, but it's likely a significant number given that tests have been restricted to healthcare workers, the hospitalized, and those in congregate living settings for weeks now.

Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that the hope with antibody testing would be to find out who might've been infected with the virus and now possibly has some level of immunity to it, making it safe for them to live a normal life amid the pandemic orders that have shuttered businesses and kept Minnesotans under a stay-at-home order. 

But there's one critical area of unknown: There is not enough data to guarantee that someone who had COVID-19 can't get it again.

"We don't know yet if that's the case. We don't if they can get it again yet," said Walz. "I think in most of these cases there would be a belief that a certain percentage of folks would be immune from that," thus helping determine "who wouldn't need to be quarantined" and "who could be out and not infecting others." 

The Star Tribune reported on Monday that more verification of antibody tests is needed before researchers at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic will be ready to go public with the tests, but they might gain enough confidence to move forward within a couple of weeks. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Limited antibody testing is already available in some states, including Alabama, where there are two screening locations in the City of Mobile. The antibody tests are taken on site and before a patient leaves they know if their immune system has been contacted by the virus. 

Getting positive antibody tests would also help determine how deadly COVID-19 is. The case fatality rate in Minnesota can only be determined by the number of tests, confirmed cases and deaths, which as of Tuesday stands at 629 cases and 12 deaths, creating a fatality rate of 1.91 percent.

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.12.52 AM

At the national level, there is a race to find out if antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients can be used to treat critically ill patients – with scientists at the University of Minnesota among those conducting such research.

"Using plasma or human antibodies to treat COVID-19 is an important strategy. It was used in 1918 with the influenza pandemic," said Dr. Gregory Poland, vaccine specialist at the Mayo Clinic. "Using plasma is a polyclonal approach. There are also laboratory methods by which you can make a monoclonal antibody, and both of those are going to be tried."

According to CBS News, blood from recovered patients contains antibodies that can fight the virus. Clinical testing is already underway at Houston Methodist Hospital and it will soon be happening at Mount Sinai in New York. 

"We have some idea, partially from the 1918 influenza epidemic, that taking blood plasma from one person and giving it to another actually may improve outcomes," Mount Sinai Dr. Nicole Bouvier told CBS News. 

Next Up

Eric Kendricks

Vikings downgrade Eric Kendricks to out against Lions

The Vikings have also activated Michael Pierce from injured reserve.

u.s. attorney

Minnesotan sentenced after assaulting man with baseball bat

Marshall Wayne Boshey was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

Target store

Target's gift card discount is back, but for this weekend only

The fine print: for Target Circle members only (but membership is free).

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

Minneapolis teen arrested in St. Cloud after fleeing police in stolen vehicle

The vehicle was stolen in a car-jacking in Minneapolis Thursday.

snow, blowing snow

Winter storm warnings issued with heavy snow set to slam MN

Parts of northern Minnesota could see more than a foot of snow, but there won't be much in the Twin Cities.

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

Related

novel coronavirus, covid-19, sars-cov-2

Coronavirus: What antibody testing can and can't tell Minnesota

Minnesota has not yet rolled out widespread antibody testing.

coronavirus, covid-19, doctor

U of M, Mayo Clinic testing provides hope for Minnesota in COVID-19 fight

Both institutions are in the process of preparing to deploy the tests to the public.

coronavirus, sars-cov-2

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, June 26

Approximately 15,000 tests were analyzed in the latest reporting period.

coronavirus, sars-cov-2

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, September 1

1,340 of Minnesota's 1,823 deaths were residents of long-term care facilities.

coronavirus, COVID-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, June 10

The assumed COVID-19 deaths jumped by 20 in the new reporting period.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, November 2

There are now 774 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Minnesota.

Fairview Southdale

M Health Fairview offering antibody tests at 6 locations without doctor's order

An antibody test can tell you whether you already had COVID-19.

coronavirus, doctor, nurse, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, July 13

3.5% of tests in the reporting period were positive for COVID-19.