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“THAT IS GOING TO BE THE FUTURE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 8, 2020) — In an interview on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning, Dr. Marc Siegel, a medical contributor to the network and other outlets as well as Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, indicated that a new form of coronavirus testing may be the key to reopening the United States for business.
Beginning at 2:11 in a video replay, Fox & Friends introduced the topic by citing comments from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday press conference regarding the implementation of an antibody test which could determine who has had the virus and might now be immune, thereby deeming it safe for those individuals to return to work or school.
An antibody test is being administered on a trial basis to medical workers at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, McClatchy reported on March 25, with similar testing materials developed by the hospital sent to three other states for similar trials.
Prior to Siegel’s appearance, RADM Brett Giroir, who serves as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS) and is an ICU pediatric physician as well as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that an antibody test will identify those individuals who have experienced the virus, knowingly or unknowingly, and therefore possibly built up an immunity to it. Giroir’s appearance begins at 22:29 here.
An “Abbott machine,” Giroir said, signifies a variety of medical testing machines the company manufactures. “Up until now, all the tests we’ve been speaking about diagnosed, ‘Do you have the virus in your nose? Are you actively shedding? Are you infected?’ The antibody test would be able to tell you, ‘Have you been infected in the past?’ So it detects an immune response to the virus, meaning that you’re likely not ever going to be able to get it again or at least in the short term of many years. That’s the test right now that are coming on to the market…” [sic]
However, he cautioned that a reliable test to determine coronavirus antibodies is not yet available to the public. “Most of them, almost all of them, have not been through FDA authorization, and we are very concerned that many of the tests are really just not accurate,” Giroir said. “So in the government right now, the FDA, CDC, NIH are trying to validate all the tests that are out there that we know about to make sure that they really perform.”
He cited an instance in the UK wherein 20 million tests were purchased and found to be dysfunctional.
“There’s no need to have this test right now,” Giroir continued. “We are developing the methods — we have the methods — and we’re validating which tests are good, and as soon as we do that, you’ll be hearing from us very shortly, probably in the next week, to give the public assurance of which ones really work and don’t, and there’ll be a really national testing plan around these antibody tests as well.”
Referring to Cuomo’s remarks, Brian Kilmeade asked Siegel, “Among the press conference comments yesterday that stuck out with me with Gov. Cuomo was not only the number of hospitalizations down, but he says he’s starting with these antibody tests as a way to get back to work. What does that look like to you?”
“I think that’s the future, Brian; I think we’re entering a new arena with that,” Siegel responded. “…The first antibody is called an ‘IGM’; the next one is called an ‘IGG.’ That’s immunoglobulins, antibodies. Now what Adm. Giroir just told you on the show is that we need to make sure that these antibodies tests are standardized, that we don’t have people claiming they can do something they can’t. But the New York State test is excellent, and Mayo Clinic has one, too, coming out now that is excellent. But what do I mean by ‘excellent’? I mean, they can tell you whether you’ve been exposed to the virus, whether you’ve had an infection of the virus, and whether you’re recovering from the virus. Whether that means you’re immune to the virus is not yet known, but certainly, we now will be able to tell, looking back, ‘You had it; you’re exposed to it; now you’re recovering; now you can go back to work. There’s no question about that.”
He added that the use of antibody testing, “It’s a marker we can use for whether a vaccine works down the line. That is going to be the future…That’s what we need to figure out who goes back to work and who needs to stay sidelined.”
During Tuesday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force presser, which lasted approximately two hours, Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx also mentioned that testing for antibodies could reveal valuable information as governments around the world grapple with the force and effects of the pandemic. Her remarks on the subject begin at approximately 1:16:00.
Also during Tuesday’s presser, President Trump said that shutting down the U.S. economy was “the right thing to do” to avoid the spread of the coronovirus while indicating his desire to reopen the country’s small businesses and large corporations to achieve an economic revival.