While hospitals treat those already infected, and tests for those with symptoms confirm assumptions, widespread testing of the general population proves the most vital tool in stemming the continued spread of covid-19. Health experts recently discovered a great many carry the virus asymptomatically. Since the virus can spread from those who don’t know they have it, testing everyone helps officials track the full breadth of the outbreak. Therefore, Indiana began testing random Hoosiers with an antibody test to determine who may have or already had the virus.
Different from the standard tests administered to those with symptoms, antibody tests check for immune response to covid-19. As a result, officials see whether a person had the virus previously, in addition to seeing if they have it now.
By testing random people from the state’s general population, officials get a better idea how widespread the outbreak is.
Testing of 10,000 randomly invited Hoosiers began Saturday. The first round proceeds through Wednesday.
Antibody Testing Off to Rocky Start
Despite organizing the testing effort, some early snags slowed the process. Some testing sites lacked some of the necessary equipment. As a result, delays pushed the day’s start time back.
However, volunteers seemed only mildly bothered. Several spoke with reporters from WISHTV. “If I’d have known beforehand I would have brought a book,” said Erin Weaver. Another expressed understanding at first day hiccups.
The ultimate goal is to reach 20,000 total antibody tests. Officials plan to operate the testing sites on 4 separate occasions, inviting 10,000 each time. If even half show up to receive tests, they reach their goal.
Once they gather the data, officials can use it in their decision making. States want to reopen their economies, but in a safe manner that doesn’t negate gains made through quarantine. “The person participating in the study also gets to play a role in helping Indiana better understand the spread of disease and ultimately influence the decisions that will eventually- we will have to make about relaxing social distancing and other policies,” said Dr. Nir Menachemi.