Is it time to start adopting fresh approaches as the COVID threat becomes less urgent?
One suggestion is to utilize lateral flow antibody testing to provide a possible form of COVID pass for people entering countries, sporting events, and other large gatherings.
Some nations have already introduced antibody certificates as biomedical designations to allow more people who have been exposed to the virus to participate in society. In the United States of Kentucky, the legislature recently passed a symbolic resolution stating that a positive antibody test would be considered equivalent to being vaccinated. Most individuals will by now have experienced COVID, and therefore their immune systems will be more familiar with the disease.
According to the most recent evidence, natural infection with COVID-19 provides some protection against reinfection, and in some cases it is equivalent to those achieved by vaccinations. The greater antibodies a person has, the more protection they have from the virus over time. Consequently, performing a lateral flow test that can then show how likely a person is to catch COVID-19 and then spread it to other individuals.
If the Kentucky resolution was approved, people would be considered equivalent to being fully vaccinated if their lateral flow antibody test results showed a high enough level of neutralizing antibodies above the 20th percentile of the immunized population.
Tennis player Novak Djokovic''s vaccination status and his move to Australia are examples of developments. Alternatively, an antibody test might have been conducted if Djokovic had sufficient antibodies to counteract the virus and prevent him from transmitting it during the Australian Open. This might be a strategy to consider during large sporting events in the future.
More than just a COVID pass
Antibody testing has more benefits than being an alternative form of COVID pass. Its supporters in Kentucky say it may increase the uptake of booster vaccinations in the state if people discover they lack adequate levels of COVID antibodies.
People with poor immune systems, whether due to age, medical condition, or medication, will be particularly interested in checking if their immune system has received the vaccination.And, as vaccination effectiveness declines throughout the year, individuals may want to know how much protection they have, especially if it was a while since they had the vaccination.
Antibody testing may have public health implications, allowing authorities to track the percentage of people who have been exposed to the virus. This would be particularly beneficial when vaccinations have begun to decline, which may be within four months after a third or booster dose. This might then assist authorities in deciding whether certain protective measures should be introduced.
Data capture will be key
The results of lateral flow antibody testing must be recorded and stored in the cloud, whether on an individual scale or in a larger cohort. The easiest way to do this is by using a mobile app that records an image of the test result along with associated patient data (age, gender, etc.) and vaccination data. All data can be encrypted and anonymized.
Proof of a test result with antibody values can be emailed to the patient immediately after the test, with test history kept in the app where it can be accessed by clinicians, pharmacists, or, if in a workplace testing environment.
Individuals may be able to demonstrate that they have a sufficiently high level of antibodies to safeguard them against the COVID-19 infection and to prevent the spread of the virus.
On a larger scale, data might be anonymized and used by public health organizations to monitor the spread of the pandemic and by allowing them to adopt only permitted measures when necessary. This would also increase our understanding of COVID-19 and in transforming our approach to future disease outbreaks.
Lets reassess and use the new tools we have
There are a lot of scientists and public health experts concerned that we are going towards the end of the disease, where COVID is one of the diseases that continue to circulate in societies, along with cold viruses and the flu.
In some countries, measures such as masks and vaccine passes are being phased out, but in many instances, such as for international travel and certain large events, they are likely to remain for the foreseeable future. Despite the successful implementation, many individuals will still be denied vaccines.
During the last two years, a lot of new and innovative diagnostic testing technology has been developed. Instead of relying on vaccinations, movement restrictions, and lockdowns, we should be using these diagnostics and other alternative methods we now have at our disposal to keep us safe and living.