Antibodies found in Armenia’s 61 medical workers from 380 examinations: testing continues
YEREVAN, JUNE 30, ARMENPRESS. Antibody testing is being conducted among Armenia’s medical staff working in the frontline with patients infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to find out whether they have been infected with the virus or not. Armenia is also planning to conduct COVID-19 antibody testing among the population.
“We are conducting tests among the medical workers who are in the frontline engaged in the treatment of COVID-19 patients: they include doctors, nurses and primary healthcare workers, in this case the staff of Yerevan’s polyclinics. Nearly 1000-1100 medical workers will be tested”, Varduhi Petrosyan, Dean, AUA Turpanjian School of Public Health (SPH), told Armenpress.
However, it’s still not clear how long the antibodies, which developed after being infected with the coronavirus, stay in organism and to what extent they protect against re-infection. “According to some studies the concentration of antibodies in blood may significantly decline 2-3 months after the disease. But this doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t have immunity. Immunity is quite a complex system, as various cells are involved in the formation of immunity, and these tests are just about the presence of antibodies. In other words, science yet needs to reveal many things”, she said.
Thus, if an antibody is found, it is supposed that immunity has developed, but it’s still unknown how long it will stay in each person’s organism – 3 months, 1 year or until the end of life. In any case if an antibody is found, the medical worker should continue again wearing the protective clothing, and the ordinary citizen should continue wearing a face mask, keeping a social distance and regularly washing hands.
Petrosyan said that they are also going to understand whether the source of the virus has been the working place, or a family member or another one. Through these questionnaires they will try to understand what are the risky factors for the medical workers and whether a change is needed in the policy or not, and also they will better understand the disease.
The testing has already been conducted among medics in 2 hospitals and 3 polyclinics and will also be done among healthcare workers in 5-6 polyclinics. The data will be summed up within a month.
“We have obtained such tests which have a 100% sensitivity and a 99.8% specificity. 99.8% specificity means that if we test 1000 persons who do not have an antibody, 2 of them will give a false positive result. This is a very small number, but, nevertheless, these two will think that they have an immunity, but in fact they don’t. Therefore, we should be very cautious with the tests”, she added.
As of June 29, 380 examinations have been carried out. 70 are in process. Antibodies were found in 61 out of 380.
The antibody testing among healthcare workers is being carried out by the joint efforts of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia, the School of Public Health of the American University of Armenia, the Republican Center for AIDS Prevention, and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV / AIDS.
Reporting by Anna Grigoryan; Editing and Translating by Aneta Harutyunyan