Lack of Antibody and Immunity Tests for the Virus is Killing the Economy — For a Mortality Rate of 0.8%, which is a 99.2% Survival Rate

It is beginning to dawn on the American people that the “Stop the Spread,” is a strategy with no end.

The end, when everyone is immune, comes from either a vaccine which is expected — at the earliest — in seven or eight months.

Or, to put it another way, your shelter in place ends when you have immunity.

But no one will say how many people have immunity because the antibody tests have been few and far between because there are not many fast antibody tests.

As the Daily Beast explains, an antibody test will :

…basically test if somebody has already had COVID-19,” Amanat said.

Such a test would facilitate research into the workings of the immune system in response to this new virus. It would also afford a fuller sense of how many people had been infected, including those who had not been symptomatic. That would provide for a more accurate measure of the infection rate.

And the test could identify those who might now have immunity.

And the lack of antibody tests means that people who are immune, don’t know they are immune.

Imagine a checkout clerk or shelve stocker or truck driver or truck unloader or loader, how much better they would feel about going to work if they knew they were immune?

Or imagine a truck driver, truck loader or unloader, shelve store stocker or cashier deciding not to go to work because they do not want to “risk” getting sick, but meanwhile, they are one of the estimated 15% of the population that already has immunity, they just don’t know it.


There are no antibody tests, no immunity tests to tell them they were among the estimated between 25% and 50% of people who already have had the infection and did not notice because their symptoms were either non-existent or very mild.

This huge group of the population can work in critical infrastructure jobs, can go to work to keep the economy moving and can serve food in a restaurant or cook it, or go to a movie or to a bar.

There is an antibody test was discovered by a graduate student and team in Manhattan who discovered it more than two months ago.  It passed the Wuhan virus-specific antibody test, so scientists know it is not just picking up antibodies from run-of-mill coronavirus in circulation before the Wuhan, from The Daily Beast:

On Feb. 17, Krammer was able to tweet what few in the Twitterverse recognized as some actual good news when there seemed none in the shadow of a global pandemic. He invited others to join in the effort:

“My student Fatima Amanat just made a few mgs of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 RBD protein. Happy to share (reasonable requests only).”

One possible hitch was that the antibodies would not be specific to COVID-19 and the test might also produce a positive result for people who had been exposed to other coronaviruses, such as one associated with the common cold.

To validate the test, the lab utilized 59 human samples from pre-COVID-19 America. The samples were from people of all ethnic backgrounds, ages ranging from 20 to 65-plus, at least a majority of whom had been exposed to various viruses. All these samples tested negative.

The lab also used multiple samples from three people who were stricken by COVID-19. These samples were from days two, four, six, and 20 after the infection. All these tested positive.  (emphasis added.)

But for whatever reason, these simple tests which could be made quickly and easily are nowhere to be found.

Where are they?

When will they be manufactured?

When will we know how much of the population has immunity?

Why did NIH just announce their first serology study three days ago?

Why doesn’t Dr. Brix talk about the number of Americans who have already been infected and have immunity?

Why doesn’t Dr. Fauci tell Americans that at least 2 million Americans now have antibodies and immunity?

The reason is that Dr. Brix and Dr. Fauci can’t agree if the number of those who have been infected and show no symptoms or mild symptoms and have antibodies — it is between 25% and 50% of those infected.

If you add those 2 million Americans to the denominator when calculating the mortality rate in the United States from the Wuhan virus, then the mortality rate is actually 0.8%, meaning the Wuhan virus has a 99.2% survival rate.

Here is the math: 23,644 deaths divided by the number of known infected Americans 587,155 x 5 to get a solid estimate of the total number of Americans who have been infected = 2,935,775.

The actual mortality rate is 23,644 divided by 2,935,775 x 100 = 0.8% mortality rate in the United States — meaning the Wuhan virus is 8 times more lethal than the flu.

Why multiply by 5 the number of known infected to get the actual number of infected?

It is simple: the vast majority of Americans being tested are the 20% who have severe symptoms.

The other 80% who have been infected are not tested because they are never sick enough.

Most are only tested when they become sick enough, and they must go to the hospital.

Therefore, to arrive at the total number of infected, you must account for the 80% with mild symptoms as well as the 20% — which you do by multiplying the known infected by five.

So why isn’t the White House saying this?

Why isn’t the President telling the American people the actual risks — 99.2% survive.

Why are we losing trillions of dollars, shutting down the country for a mortality rate of 0.8%?

Is the answer is that the ‘Slow the Spread’ is saving lives?

Yes, that is part of the answer.  Without quarantine, the infection rate will be higher, and so will the death rate.

But the fact of the matter is that the virus will continue to spread even after the ‘Slow the Spread’ has stopped.  And it is unclear if the number of deaths will change because it seems very likely that most Americans will be infected sooner or later.

In pandemic math, almost everyone agrees that once 1% of a population has been infected, the virus is virtually unstoppable — yes you can slow it — but without either herd immunity or a vaccine, it can’t be stopped.

And ‘Slow the Spread’ cannot last forever.  It has to end for political, economic, moral and psychological reasons.

And that is why those with immunity must be identified so that the economy can restart and the country can get back to some semblance of “normal.”

According to Business Insider, Dr. Fauci said:

What’s more, between 25% and 50% of people infected with the virus show no symptoms at all, according to Fauci. Almost all of those asymptomatic people are not included in official counts either, but an antibody could help identify them.

“As we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it’s very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated this society,” Fauci told CNN. “Because it’s very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected.”

Among the benefits of such a test are, as George Miller, professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health said in an op-ed in The Washington Post ten days ago:

“COVID-19 is still spreading rapidly throughout the United States, and antibody tests remain an underappreciated weapon in our fight to stop it,” he wrote in an op-ed article in The Washington Post on April 1.

“Armed with such tests, we can provide the public with much more specific information about their own susceptibility, possibly permit immune individuals to return to work, and help people make more informed decisions about when and whether to loosen restrictions on their social activities.”

But the green shoots of early antibody testing are beginning, as The Washington Post reports today:

The biggest hospital system in Michigan is launching what’s believed to be the nation’s largest test for novel coronavirus antibodies. The study could determine who has already been infected with the virus and may now be immune to it — information that public health officials say is vital to decisions about reopening society.

Beaumont Health will test blood samples from its 38,000 employees, as well as thousands of additional physicians and affiliates, officials said in interviews. Participation is voluntary, but officials said they expect many employees will want the test, particularly those working in emergency rooms and intensive care units who are at high risk of contracting the virus. Michigan has the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases of any U.S. state.

Many public health officials have advocated such testing on a broad scale to find out how extensively the virus has circulated in the United States and who may have immunity and be able to return to work first.

I understand a similar antibody test is underway in New Jersey from senior leaders of the state legislature.

NBC is reporting a “Large-scale COVID-19 antibody testing study launched in California — The findings could help shape strategies to get the U.S. economy up and running again, researchers said.”

And now the WH has ordered insurers to make immunity tests free to patients.

At yesterday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting Vice President Pence said 20 million antibody tests are being produced a month.

That is the scale that will make a big difference, and very impressive.

But given the fact that it was impossible for me to get a Wuhan virus test when I had all the symptoms but was not severely ill, I have a wait and see attitude about the immunity tests.  I even had a prescription from my doctor for the Wuhan virus test, but called all over Washington, D.C. and even did a telemedicine visit, and could not get a test.

The doctor told me if I had tightening of the chest and trouble breathing to call back, but under no circumstances should I leave the house to go anywhere, including the pharmacy.

But testing 3 million people for the Wuhan virus is great, but irrelevant to me because I could not get a test.

So making 20 million antibody tests sounds really great.   But producing 20 million a month is irrelevant if you can’t get access to the test.

Will the immunity tests be like the Wuhan virus test, where when you are sick, have a doctor’s prescription, and you still can’t get a test?

So, the obvious and reasonable questions are, given the Wuhan virus test availability: when will the antibody tests be available?

To whom will they be available?

How long will it take to get the results, if and when they are available?

Given the fact that unless you go to the hospital and are severely ill you could not be tested for the Wuhan virus, and while 20 million test sounds like quite a feat, it remains to be seen what it really means for Americans, and where the tests will be sent, who has access to the first 20 million antibody tests and what the degree of hassle and effort it takes to be able to be tested.

I had lined up a test with a doctor in Washington, D.C. for antibodies — it was the only test to receive emergency FDA authorization, by Cellex.  I called the day before the test to find out how much it would cost, and my doctor said his distributor sent an email saying my doctor would not be receiving any tests.

No doubt the medical staff have decided to redirect the test to medical personnel first.

And medical personnel will always prioritize what they believe is important over what is important for the economy or for the majority of the country.

I have said it before and I will say it again, it is high time the government put some small amount of time, treasure and blood on the 80% who have had the virus and pivot from their entire focus on the severely ill 20%.

The President and the WH Task Force has done a fantastic job on the 20%.

No one wanted for ventilators or hospital beds and military medical staff surged into New York and New Jersey under the President’s orders, along with the hospital ships going to New York and LA — the Comfort and the Mercy — not to mention the field hospital built in the real-time in the Javits Center in the middle of New York City.

It was an amazing job to stand up more than three million tests in three weeks and is truly an example of American exceptionalism.

But the 20% is handled, we need to pivot to the 80% who have been infected, and how they can help with an immunity test, immunity certificate and how they can be put back to work, immediately.

But we need not only to have an antibody test, we need to have access to it.

Knowing there are 20 million antibody tests is a great relief, but not having access to them is like having cigarettes and no matches or lighter — extremely frustrating.


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