April 10, 2020 / By Brianna Abbott, Denise Roland, The Wall Street Journal
The new tests promise to give public-health and hospital officials a better idea of how widely the virus has spread and who can safely treat patients and stop social distancing. But uncertainty about the accuracy of some of the tests and unknowns surrounding immunity to Covid-19 — the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus — could limit their usefulness, at least early on.
“To date, we have had no clue how many people have been infected,” said Eran Bendavid, an infectious-disease physician at Stanford University. “This could be an extraordinarily important piece of how we’re going to get over this epidemic.”
Hospitals are especially eager for serology tests, which could help them identify which workers might have a level of immunity.
“If I had 10 nurses and five were immune, I could assign them to different areas,” said Anthony Harris, a hospital epidemiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “It could create a win-win: You decrease their anxiety, increase better patient care.”