Mayo Clinic Quickly Ramping up COVID-19 Testing
ROCHESTER -- The Mayo Clinic in Rochester continues to ramp up testing for COVID-19. There are actually two different types of testing that are happening there.
The molecular test is done to find out if a patient currently has the virus. A Mayo spokeswoman says they currently have the capacity to do 7,000 of these tests per day.
Mayo is using a molecular test developed at their clinic as well as commercially available tests.
Then there's a serology test to find out if a person has had COVID-19 in the past and has recovered. The serology test needs to be done a minimum of 11 to 14 days after the patient is symptomatic. They currently have the capacity to do 10,000 serology tests per day.
For the serology tests, they've validated two different commercially available test kits.
Dr. Eli Theel says they now need to get a detailed plan together on testing and what we're going to do with those results.
Because we can say that individuals that have antibodies to COVID-19 have been infected or exposed to the virus at some point in the past, but what we don't really know much yet about the level or duration of protective immunity.
Theel says it took three to four weeks before they were ready to do widespread serology testing.
Not all of them are created equally there are some tests that give a lot of false-positive results others that give false-negative results, so for us it was very important that the quality of the testing we're providing is as accurate as possible.
Theel says there are over 80 different tests for the detection of antibodies right now that are commercially available.
She says, because the coronavirus is so new, there are still a lot of unknowns.
What we don't know right now is how long these antibodies to COVID-19 last and how long they offer us that protective immunity and how strong that protective immunity is.
Theel says they don't typically test people just because they want to know if they've had COVID-19 in the past because they don't want to create a false sense of security.
Theel says Mayo Clinic is looking to work together with other hospitals in Minnesota and the state's public health department to help get us back to work.
She says the Mayo Clinic is also working on vaccine development along with over 100 different groups around the world. Five to seven vaccines are in phase one clinical trials.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz says the state needs to ramp up testing, tracing and isolation before he can start opening up the economy. The serology tests are the tracing portion, knowing who has had COVID-19 in the past and has at least some level of immunity to it.