We have a few topics to cover today and will try to do so as succinctly as possible.
Since our prior communication, the FDA has approved an antibody test that has been validated as being highly sensitive and specific. What that means is that if you were exposed to COVID-19, the blood test will be able to tell you that. Perhaps as importantly, the test will not falsely tell you that you were exposed if you were not. Before you all go running to get the test (and not sure which labs will have it at this point – the test is made by Roche), there are a few things to consider. First, the presence of having antibodies DOES NOT mean you are immune, rather that you were exposed and mounted some response to the virus that is detectable. On the bright side, what the test enables is research aimed at addressing this issue. If someone with antibodies ends up being swabbed at a later date and has COVID-19, it may indicate that reinfection can occur. The subsequent questions would be whether they would fight off the infection quickly and if they maintain the same risk profile the second time around. How contagious someone is the second time around would also be of significance. More obviously on this topic as data comes in. If you are going to get tested though for antibodies, this is the one you want currently. There will be others starting to become validated soon without a doubt.
Also, since our prior communication, there are a lot of states beginning to ease restrictions on business and being out in public. It will take several weeks at minimum to see what effect that has on infection rates due to the inherent incubation time for the virus. Some countries that have already dabbled with such saw significant increases in infection rates after easing restrictions and the same should be expected here. The key is that the increase keeps the “R-value” less than 1 (see last post for more detail on these values). Please continue to exercise full precautions with high risk populations as the restrictions will likely be eased here in New York as well over the next several weeks. There will be ongoing transmission of COVID-19 for a very extended period of time. It will require either effective medication, a vaccine, or herd immunity to stop transmission. None of these are imminent.
Lastly, we strongly urge all to keep up with their preventative health care (i.e.: well visits). Many have been pushing off preventative health care visits due to COVID-19 concerns, but there will not be a “better time” to conduct them over the next several months (at minimum). We have, and will continue to, implement measures to minimize any risk of contagion within our office. We currently have separate office space for all illness related concerns (several doors down from our main office). Preventative health care is not simply about immunizations, but a litany of concerns that are more of a serious threat to your child’s health than COVID-19. We could not give you a comprehensive list of serious issues we have found in apparently healthy children incidentally at those visits, and while it does not happen frequently, several times a year has spared a child from a serious adverse outcome. If there are concerns within your home (such as you have elderly folks that live with you), please discuss with the office as we are making accommodations when possible such as appointments outside office hours where there are no others in the facility. On the topic of immunizations, since the pandemic, overall rates of immunization in society had dipped. If this trend continues, we could be looking at a fall/winter season with influenza, COVID-19 mixed it with other diseases that we should never be seeing (such as measles) in this day and age. Furthermore, please make a point of getting your influenza vaccine this year when available (usually August/September). While we encourage this every year, there is significant increased risk of adverse outcomes with multiple deadly viruses in circulation concurrently.