NEW YORK, NY – Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged on Thursday to test a total of 140,000 New Yorkers for coronavirus antibodies between now and early June, the Associated Press reports.
The tests will determine if an individual has antibodies in their blood that would prove they had already contracted and recovered from the disease. The mayor said that the tests would be conducted free by appointment at five locations across the city, and that results would be available within one or two days. Results would also be used for epidemiological research.
Blood tests are distinct from nasal swabs, which determine whether an individual currently has the disease. Blood tests, by contrast, measure the level of antibodies present in a sample. Antibodies fight infection, and are produced during sickness and for days or even weeks following recovery. A sample is usually collected from a finger prick and collected on a blood strip.
Researchers caution that it remains unclear whether coronavirus antibodies provide future immunity from the disease, and if so, what level is required. It is also unclear how long any immunity might last. Viruses like the coronavirus mutate over time, which is why the same person can contract the flu multiple times over several years.
Much is still unknown about the disease, but continued research will help scientists combat its spread and treat the sick.