Just how prevalent is the new coronavirus in New York? That's what the state is hoping to learn as it tests thousands of New Yorkers to see if they have the coronavirus antibodies.
"That will tell us, for the first time, what percent of the population actually has had the coronavirus and is now at least short-term immune to the virus,” Governor Cuomo said during a daily press briefing. “This will be the first, true snapshot of what we are really dealing with."
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The state Health Department plans to randomly select 3,000 New Yorkers at 20 grocery stores around the state, including at least one in each borough. Each participant will provide a finger-stick blood sample, which will then be tested for the antibodies.
Officials say the findings will help guide the state’s recovery.
"Any plan that is going to start to reopen the economy has to be based on data, and that means it has to be based on testing. This is a new world for all of us,” Cuomo said.
The FDA already has approved a number of antibody tests for use by health departments and clinics as well as private physicians.
If you do test positive for the antibodies, that doesn't necessarily mean you are immune. It is very likely, but more research needs to be done.
"The test we know means you've been exposed to it and or been infected with the coronavirus, however, it says nothing whatsoever about immunity,” Dr. Gregory Pitaro told NY1. “So until we determine whether the antibodies confer immunity, it means absolutely nothing about whether you're immune to the coronavirus or not. There are some general assumption that you might be based on how other coronaviruses have acted."
Furthermore, doctors warn some tests can offer false negatives.
The data gathered from the tests, though, will be used to start the possible return to normal life.
"This is an area where we can say there’s some real promise, there’s still a lot of open questions, there’s different kinds of tests, so different kinds of quality level and accuracy,” said Mayor de Blasio.