Doctors at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore are working on a blood test that can give a clearer answer to what’s been a difficult question for the past 1 1/2 years, with a study outlining the test published earlier this month.
There’s a rule of thumb is that immunity starts to fade after 3-4 months, but that’s only based on how part of how the immune system — antibodies — works.
“Basically, it’s a generalized tool that allows us to rapidly test and understand the T-cell response,” Anthony Tan, one of the doctors from Duke-NUS, told CBS 17 News.
T-cells are a big deal because they work differently than antibodies do. Antibodies can leave your body after an infection
“The T-cells recognize infected cells, and antibodies recognize a virus, to be very simple,” said Nina LeBert, another of the doctors from Duke-NUS Singapore who is working on the test.
Here’s how the test works: The subject’s blood is mixed with some proteins from the COVID-19 virus, and the mixture is checked 24 hours later for a T-cell response.
“The message is, really, you can now measure the T-cell response easily. You can understand whether you have, and what kind of, levels of T-cell response you have.”
The doctors say it can help immunocompromised people develop a clearer picture of how protected they are from the virus.
“That’s, I think, a very good social benefit of understanding what the T-cell response is,” Tan said.
But there’s an easy way to misinterpret what the test tells you, the doctors say.
Tan says when you look at your test results, it’s better to pay attention to where you fall in the range of scores as opposed to the absolute number.