The Mayo Clinic has said it will roll out its coronavirus antibody test as soon as next week.
The Rochester institution has been working on a test that identifies people who have already had the COVID-19 virus, but have since recovered without getting diagnosed.
The potential benefit from this is that those who have already had the virus and have an active immunity that limits their chances of contracting it again, meaning they can return to the workforce.
This could be particularly valuable for those workers in healthcare settings, who have to deal with patients potentially carrying the COVID-19 virus.
While the antibody test is set to be introduced probably on Monday by the Mayo, the clinic told BMTN that it will be a "very slow start up for it due to limited supplies of components."
"We don't know when it will be broadly available," a spokesperson said.
Nonetheless, Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm expressed excitement that the tests are arriving, with Walz saying Minnesota is "very interested in partnering" with the Mayo on this.
The Mayo Clinic, in an article published on its website this week, said that another use of the antibody test is to get a more complete picture of how widespread the coronavirus has become.
"It also allows them to identify which personal characteristics and environmental factors appear to play a role in how severely the virus affects particular groups of people, or populations," it said.
"By identifying what percentage of the population has been infected, we can better determine how far the virus has spread," said Dr. Elitza Theel. "And at some point, we will reach a peak level of infection, at which point we will have reached herd immunity, when fewer individuals will be at risk of infection."
Another possibility of identifying someone who has already had the coronavirus is the potential to collected antibodies from a previously infected person and giving it to sick people to provide protection while their own immune system works to develop a strong antibody response.
"This causes what is called passive immunity, which can sometimes prevent infection or boost an immune response to combat the disease," the Mayo says.