Covid-19 infection can go completely unnoticed. That is why countries such as Austria, Germany or Great Britain are planning to use so-called antibody tests across the board. Switzerland has also decided to do so.
What are immunoglobulins?
Immunoglobulin (Ig) are antibodies. Various proteins are called such, which play an important role in the defense against foreign substances in the body. They come in different forms with different functions, for example as immunoglobulin G or A. The former acts primarily against viruses and bacteria. The latter is primarily responsible for the defense against pathogens on mucosal surfaces.
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The hope in the tests is great: Those who would have detected antibodies could then safely do without contact blocks and return to their professions, so the idea. It would be particularly valuable for hospitals to know which employees are already immune. You should no longer be afraid of becoming infected when caring for Covid-19 patients.
The type of antibody is important
The big testing could be in Switzerland start next week, said Daniel Koch from the Federal Office of Public Health on Saturday. As soon as the test kits were available, they would “certainly be used widely.”
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According to “Daily scoreboard” the first tests are currently being delivered to Swiss laboratories that detect such antibodies. In most methods these are those of the immunoglobulin G (IgG) type, in others also those of the type A (IgA, see box).
According to Beda M. Stadler, emeritus immunologist from the University of Bern, this speaks for the high reliability of the tests: “Those who have these two antibodies are very likely to be immune and can participate in life as normal again.” Work is also back in there. Unlike other types of antibodies, such as IgM, they only formed after the infection had survived.
Calculate death rate better
In order to meet the high demand for antibody tests, Switzerland obtains them from various providers. How many of these there will be remains to be seen. But according to the “Tages-Anzeiger”, there should be several hundred to several thousand tests per supplier and week. Accordingly, a lot should be tested.
The antibody tests are not only valuable for people and the economy, but also for science. Finally, it can be used for the first time to estimate how many people become infected with Sars-CoV-2 without having symptoms. This in turn can be used to deduce what the rate of severe cases and deaths is.
Neuropathologist Adriano Aguzzi from Zurich University Hospital (USZ) would also like to launch this week Antibody tests also clarify open questions of science.