ROCHESTER, Minn. - While some people become severely ill from COVID-19, others are recovering or never developed any symptoms from the virus in the first place.
Mayo Clinic researchers are identifying antibodies in the blood of people who are believed to have recovered from the virus. Presence of the antibodies in a patient means the person was exposed to the virus and developed a level of immunity to it.
Because some people catch the virus without knowing it, finding these antibodies will give researchers a more accurate idea of how many people have actually been infected.
"If we know how many individuals in the region in the nation have immunity, we can identify the true number of people that have been infected, and so better understand the true case fatality rate for COVID-19," explains Dr. Elitza Theel, who is leading the research team.
Learning more about the body's immunological response could also mean some healthcare workers who caught the virus and recovered and developed immunity may be able to return to work, and the antibodies could be used to treat COVID-19 patients who are acutely ill.
These tests are different than the tests that tell patients if they are positive or negative for having the virus.