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Plan in the works for COVID-19 antibody testing in North Dakota

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At least 10% of the state’s population has been infected with the coronavirus over the course of the pandemic. We know that from the Department of Health’s data gathered from daily testing, using PCR tests (the swabs you’re likely familiar with).

But how many people had it and were never diagnosed? Gauging that requires a serology (or antibody) test, a blood test that shows if you have had the virus even if you’re negative for it at the time of the test.

The state actually acquired 178,000 COVID-19 antibody tests in the spring, but as of this weekend, health officials say only about 8,000 have been used.

North Dakota’s Chief Health Strategist Dr. Joshua Wynne says the state is working on a plan to start a study using those tests, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“It’s not going to help how we manage you or me, but it will tell us how far we are away from getting to herd immunity,” he added. “So I think we’ll be getting more data on that over the next few months, and that will help inform the vaccination process.”

Dr. Wynne says a study he often refers to, from Iceland, shows that for every one person who has tested positive for COVID-19, there are two more positive people who were never tested. If that’s true in North Dakota, 20-25% of the population may have been infected at some point.

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