The state of Nevada abruptly shutdown two operations that were administering antibody tests to determine whether people had possibly developed an immunity to the coronavirus, according to the morning paper.
Officials at Sahara West Urgent Care & Wellness confirmed the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services shutdown testing that had begun this past week. Cura Telehealth began testing Tuesday but by midafternoon its the licensed nurse practitioner overseeing testing quit, described as being overwhelmed by the turnout. The operation was told by the state it could not continue with only physician assistants doing the testing. Both were doing drive through testing operations.
The story reported, “Health department representatives could not be reached for comment.” The tests were halted despite the fact the Food and Drug Administration, which has not yet approved an antibody test for this virus, has allowed companies to manufacture and distribute tests.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said the White House coronavirus task force has been discussing the idea of “certificates of immunity,” which could be issued to people who had previously been infected, according to The New York Times. “As we get to the point of considering opening the country,” he told the paper, “it is very important to understand how much that virus has penetrated society.”
This could allow those who are immune to return to work. Many people have been exposed to the virus and developed immunity but showed no symptoms. Researchers in Iceland reported 50 percent of their novel coronavirus cases who tested positive had no symptoms, according to Healthline.
Dr. Vit Kraushaar, medical investigator for the Southern Nevada Health District, told the morning newspaper the problem with some antibody tests is that they test positive for other types of coronaviruses, such as the common cold. “So you see that you test positive, and you think it’s because you had COVID.” But it could be another type of coronavirus. “We still don’t really have a good sense of whether this provides long-term immunity. … So I think some of those things need to be answered before we started doing mass testing.”
The perfect is the enemy of the good?
An article in USA Today cited comments by Dr. Fauci on CNN that antibody testing can show who has developed immunity to the coronavirus and can safely go back to work without getting reinfected. “As we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country, as it were, it’s very important to appreciate and understand how much this virus is penetrating this society,” he said.
The state of Nevada doesn’t think you can handle the information a test can provide, even with the caveat that it is not perfect.