ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — Placer County leaders plan to test people for COVID-19 antibodies, then use the results to influence guidelines on reopening.
But on Wednesday, CDC officials said antibody tests can be wrong half the time.
Placer County’s antibody study will cost $250,000. Supervisors said it’s worth every penny and that they disagree with the CDC. Their plan is to give antibody tests to one or two thousand people from diverse backgrounds.
“Like we do with political polling, establish a statistically significant and valid sample,” said Kirk Uhler, a Placer County Supervisor.
Supervisors said the information could be used to guide reopening for schools, summer camps, and other stage 4 items.
“The county doesn’t have authority over all those things, but we certainly can influence them,” said Robert Weygandt, a Placer County Supervisor.
The CDC put out a strong warning against antibody tests, calling them inaccurate. The agency said they should not be used to influence policy decisions. It’s a recommendation Placer County leaders dismiss.
“I think we have made so many policy decisions with so little information, I guess I just disagree with it,” Weygandt said.
UCLA epidemiologist Doctor Jeffrey Klausner calls the CDC advice a gross misinterpretation. He said accuracy boils down to the type of test and manufacturer and that people can rely on lab-based antibody tests
“What the problem is, is that there’s been a massive introduction of rapid tests and finger stick tests. And these rapid finger stick tests are much less accurate,” Dr. Klausner said.
Other doctors are warning that regardless of your test results, there’s not much known about immunity and if COVID-19 antibodies even provide it.
So what is the Placer County study supposed to provide for the people of Placer County?
“Hopefully it will, number one, help calm some nerves right now,” Uhler said.
Placer County expects to start blood draw antibody testing in a week and results would take three weeks. That is not in time to be used the county’s request to move faster through phase 3.