Antibody testing key to learning coronavirus’ true impact |

Antibody testing key to learning coronavirus’ true impact

While Nevada health officials are conducting around 5,000 nasal swab tests a day, those tests only determine if someone has the disease, not how prevalent it has been during the outbreak.

On Thursday, Director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory Mark Pandori said Nevada is on track to pass the national rate of 2 percent coronavirus testing a month. However, determining who has had the disease is still a project. Washoe County Health District has been doing random antibody testing.

Pandori said Thursday that antibody testing is critical to determining the real fatality rate of the coronavirus.

“The true value of testing is to look across large populations and determine the impact this has had,” he said. “It’s like having a time machine, and looking back, ‘We got hit by something but how bad did it hit us?’”

He said data from antibody tests will improve health officials understanding of how many people actually were infected.

“Then we can get an idea of what the real fatality rate is,” he said.

He said that while antibody testing is of interest to individuals, there’s not a lot they can do with the information.

“It might say you were infected, but it does not say when or where,” he said. “There is no amount of peer-reviewed data that says because you are antibody positive, that you are immune to the disease.”

He said that immunity from other types of coronavirus infections doesn’t last as long as that from other viruses. 

Pandori said another issue with the antibody tests available online is that many haven’t proven to be accurate.

“There are hundreds out there on the market, but only 15 authorized by the FDA,” he said. “That means those manufacturers have generated enough data to ascertain the quality of those tests.”

A half-dozen new cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Douglas County this week, bringing the county’s total to 37 with 10 active cases. 

As of Wednesday, the Minden-Johnson Lane ZIP Code has had 16 cases, the most in the county. Gardnerville has reported six cases in the 89410 ZIP Code. Indian Hills has four cases, while the Ranchos has three. Genoa, Stateline and Zephyr Cove have been stable at two cases since Carson City Health and Human Services started releasing ZIP Code data on May 23. The ZIP Codes for Topaz Ranch Estates and Glenbrook have had no reported cases.

Eighteen new cases of the coronavirus were reported on Thursday evening, the most ever in a single day in the four counties covered by Carson City Health and Human Services.

Of those cases only two were in Douglas County, a man and woman in their 50s. Three of the cases were in Carson and the rest were Lyon County residents 

“Of the cases reported today, 13 are close contacts and household members to previously reported cases” Spokeswoman Jessica Rapp said Thursday night. “CCHHS wants to remind everyone to still practice preventative actions such as washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, wearing a cloth face covering out in public, keeping 6 feet of distance between you and others, and staying home as much as possible. If you are sick, stay home. Do not go to work or out in public except to seek medical attention. If you are seeking medical attention, call your provider and let them know what symptoms you are experiencing.”

The spike brought Lyon County to 31 active cases, more than Carson City and Douglas County combined.

The capital still leads in total cases with 102 to Lyon’s 80 and Douglas’ 37.

A Carson man in his 70s died on Thursday. There are a half-dozen people in the hospital with the disease.

“Carson City Health and Human Services is working to identify close risk contacts to prevent further spread of the disease,” Rapp said. “Due to medical privacy requirements and to protect their identity, no further information about the cases will be released.”

So far, there have been 220 active cases in the four counties with 59 active.

For those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have questions, call the Quad-County COVID-19 Hotline Monday through Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm. Spanish speakers are available. The phone number is (775) 283-4789. 

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