Governor Cuomo announces preliminary results of antibody testing in the state; experts say there’s more to the numbers

Coronavirus

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Thursday the governor announced the preliminary results of the antibody testing, after 3,000 people were randomly tested throughout New York State.

These results show an estimate that nearly 14% -or one in seven – New Yorkers were likely infected and now have the antibodies. 

That’s approximately 2.7 million people to be infected with the disease.

“We’ve always known there were many more cases of the coronavirus infection than the cases we were actually diagnosing because of limitations of diagnostic testing,” said infectious disease expert, Dr. Thomas Russo.

The results show the largest concentration of the positive tests were found downstate, while 3.6% of positive antibody test results were from Upstate and Western New York.

“We know there is some difference between downstate, which was hard hit, versus the rest of the state, which, fortunately, had fewer cases,” Russo said.

This comes after the state has been testing people at grocery stores and other shopping places across 19 counties including here in Western New York. 

While discussing the infection rate, Cuomo says with approximately 15,500 deaths, the death rate is approximately .5 of those infected.

But he believes that number will go up as it does not represent at-home deaths. 

He also says antibody testing continues to be important as the state continues to look into a reopening plan.

Locally, Kaleida Health has started to turn to antibody testing on a limited number of patients, including those donating plasma.

“Once we start using it more widely, it’s a good epidemiological test – meaning it gives us an idea how much of the virus is present in our community, so that helps us guide and plan,” said Dr. David Hughes, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Kaleida Health.

Hughes said while he’s confident in the test itself, there are still some questions it doesn’t address.

“The antibody tests will tell you whether or not you’ve been exposed to the virus in the past,” he explained. “But we don’t know enough about the exposure ant the antibodies that are developed as a result of that exposure to know whether or not you’re immune to basically catching the virus again if you’ve been exposed a second time.”

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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