Coronavirus News: New York launches large-scale COVID-19 antibody testing

NEW YORK (WABC) -- On Monday, New York State launched testing for antibodies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Health experts and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo agree that the key to reopening the country and the economy will be huge amounts of testing for COVID-19 antibodies.

A new report from Harvard says the nation would need 20 million tests a day to safely reopen, a far cry from the 3,000 that New York plans to begin testing, but it's a start.

At the height of the epidemic, the rate of infection in New York state was approximately one person infecting 1.4 people. The governor reiterated that the rate of infection now has stabilized, with one person infecting .9 other people, or close to one to one.

However, the downward trend is contingent on the actions of residents. Coumo warns the rate will go back up if New Yorkers are not careful.

The state still does not know how many people were infected, so antibody testing is critical.

The testing survey will sample 3,000 people for a population of 19.5 million people - for context, Germany performed a 3,000-person sample with a population of 83 million.

Large-scale antibody testing will help determine the percentage of the population that is possibly immune to the virus, allowing more individuals to safely return to work.

He added state officials continue to work towards the scaling of diagnostic testing.

"We're coming up to scale on this even though it's hard, and Northwell is leading the parade on this," Cuomo said. "I just looked at some of the technology they're bringing in."

The governor repeated that any testing must be done in coordination with the federal government.

"And I go back and forth with the federal government on this," he said. "We have to figure it out. The states can do the tests, but when I go back to the manufacturers, they will say I can't find the reagents. The chemicals that are used in the tests. How do you get more? I have to get them from China. I have to get them from this country or this country. I can't help them do that. I can't do an international supply chain. That's where the federal government has to help because no state can do that."

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