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Antibody test will be rolled out in US in 10-14 days Dr Deborah Birx says

Top White House medical expert, Dr Deborah Birx, said the US hopes to roll out an antibody test within the next 10-14 days as a potential means to get millions of Americans back to work.

During an interview on Good Morning America, Birx was asked if she believes the lockdowns across the US would last past May 1 as the number of cases surpassed 400,000 and deaths surged to more than 12,900.

'So we're doing a series of clear investigations of what happened in Washington [state] and LA and what does that mean and how you keep the number of cases down. 

'We're also looking very carefully at rolling out and hopefully having soon within the next 10 to 14 days an antibody test so we can really tell how many Americans were asymptomatic and infected,' Birx said. 

'This makes a very big difference in understanding who can go back to work and how they can go back to work and so all of those pieces need to come together over the next couple of weeks,' she added. 

Top White House medical expert, Dr Deborah Birx, said the US hopes to roll out an antibody test within the next 10-14 days as a potential means to get millions of Americans back to work

Her remarks come just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the roll out of the test. 

This type of test, which is known as a serology test, looks for antibodies against the new virus in the blood.

Health officials say the test could help scientists understand how widespread the virus is; how many people come into contact with the virus and don't get sick; and how long patients remain immune after they recover.

This is important because it could allow immune people to leave their homes and return to work and shore up the workforce as well as help healthcare workers determine if they are immune.

The tests used presently involve a nasal or throat swab, and try to identify the virus's genetic material to see if someone is currently infected.

This new test requires blood to be collected through a vein, and can only be analyzed in a certified laboratory.

According to The New York Times, three groups will be prioritized for testing, the first being those who were not diagnosed with the virus in hot spots.

This includes areas such as New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the US; Louisiana; Michigan and Florida.

Confirmed US cases have surpassed 400,000 with more than 12,900 deaths 

The second group will be people around the US from areas that have not been hit as hard by the virus and third group will be health care workers.

'We're just starting to do testing and we'll report out on these very quickly,' Joe Bresee, deputy incident manager for the CDC's pandemic response, told reporters.

'We think the serum studies will be very important to understand what the true amount of infection is out in the community.'

Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told The Daily Show last week that he's optimistic about antibody tests.

'[I'm] willing to bet anything that people who recover are really protected against re-infection,' he told host Trevor Noah.

'If this virus acts like every other virus that we know, once you get infected, get better, clear the virus, then you'll have immunity that will protect you against re-infection.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the first antibody test to Cellex Inc, a medical device company based in North Carolina.

The FDA had previously advised against using antibody tests to diagnose coronavirus because it takes times for antibodies to develop.

But by issuing an EUA, the agency indicates that it believes the benefits outweigh any risks.

'Based on the totality of scientific evidence available to FDA, it is reasonable to believe that your product may be effective in diagnosing COVID-19,' FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton wrote in a letter to James Li, the CEO of Cellex.

'The known and potential benefits of your product when used for diagnosing COVID-19, outweigh the known and potential risks of your product.'

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