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COVID update: With antibody tests now included, state’s new case count jumps

Monitor staff
Published: 10/8/2020 1:47:16 PM

The state has just started counting positive test results from rapid antigen tests in its COVID-19 tallies and the result is already apparent: 28 such positives were reported Wednesday on top of 43 positives from the slower PCR tests.

That combined tally raises the state’s two-week average for new cases to 50, the highest it has been since June 14 and close to the level of 54, or 4 cases per 100,000 people, that the Monitor is using as an indication of statewide community transmission of the virus.

The addition of antibody tests is one reason that the number of tests being conducted in the state has risen to over 7,000 a day.

The Department of Health and Human Services also reported two COVID-related deaths Wednesday. Six people have died from the disease in the past four days.

DHHS also said events at Gate City Church in Nashua, especially a multi-day prayer session between 19th and 28th of September, have been linked to seven COVID-19 cases. The church has moved to hosting virtual services only, the state said.

Antibody tests determine whether a virus is in a system by looking for SARS-CoV2-specific antibodies, which are produces by the immune system in response to the present of the virus that causes COVID-19. Test results can be produced in as little as 15 minutes using nasal swabs and they are considered highly accurate if they return a positive result.

However, they are much less accurate if they return a negative result because it can take the body 1 to 3 weeks to produce antibodies after an infection – meaning that a person could have the virus but not yet have any antibodies to be detected. Previously the state said that positive antibody tests had to be confirmed by a PCR test before they were counted.

PCR tests look for samples of the actual virus in a nasal swab. They are more prone than antibody tests to falsely giving a positive result because they can be contaminated relatively easily during the testing process. It currently takes at least two days and often much longer for swabs to undergo PCR testing, which tastes more specialized equipment.

 




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