Univ. of Washington ramps up Abbott Labs’ ‘fantastic’ test for COVID-19 antibodies


The University of Washington School of Medicine’s Virology Lab is reporting encouraging results from trial runs of a new test from Abbott Laboratories that detects the antibodies created by people who have had COVID-19, whether they knew they had it or not.

“This is a really fantastic test,” Keith Jerome, who leads UW Medicine’s virology program, told reporters today. He said UW’s lab could process 4,000 samples per day starting next week, and conceivably ramp up to 14,000 samples per day within a couple of weeks.

“It may not be perfect protection,” he said. “It might be possible to get infected again, but if you did, you wouldn’t end up in a hospital, OK? You might feel a little off, but then those antibodies pop right back up, take care of it, and you’re better. So you get infected, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s more like a regular cold. That’s a very possible outcome.”

Other antibody tests have already come into the market, but Jerome said Abbott’s test is “very, very sensitive, with a high degree of reliability.”

Abbott’s internal study, involving 1,200 specimens, had a sensitivity of 100% to COVID-19 antibodies, Greninger said. Just as importantly, the test achieved a 99.6% specificity, meaning that it was almost always able to distinguish between SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses.