March 27, 2020 -- Researchers at the Mount Sinai Health System say they've developed a test that can find out if you already have had or were infected with the new coronavirus.
The test is called "serological enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay," or ELISA for short. It checks whether or not you have antibodies in your blood to SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Researchers say ELISA works like antibody tests for other viruses, such as hepatitis B. It will show whether your immune system -- the body's defense against germs -- made contact with SARS-CoV-2, even months before.
The test could help scientists fight the pandemic in several ways. It can give researchers a more accurate measure of how many people had the new coronavirus. It would also let health care workers who were ill with COVID-19 symptoms, but were never tested for the disease, return to work -- confident that they are now immune.
The test might also help with an experimental treatment for COVID-19 called convalescent plasma. In this therapy, doctors collect blood from people who have recovered from the disease. Researchers hope antibodies in the blood can treat people with COVID-19. The ELISA test could help identify people with antibodies who might be able to donate their blood.
The FDA is encouraging researchers to begin clinical trials on convalescent plasma. But because of the pandemic, it says some doctors may be given permission to use the method in life-threatening cases.