As the world continues to learn how to live with Covid-19 in the long run, scientists are testing ways to quickly tell people how well-protected they are against the virus, and whether they need another booster.
A new study, published Monday in Cell Reports Methods, presents a simple test to detect neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, using little more than a finger prick and a testing cartridge. The approach, if it bears out in large-scale testing and receives the blessing of regulatory agencies, could one day offer a cheap, easy option to measure protection against the virus.
“People want to know, ‘Am I protected today?’ And there isn’t a tool on the market that can facilitate that answer,” said Charles Mace, a chemist at Tufts University who was not involved in the new study. “This has that potential.”
Antibodies float around in the bloodstream, waiting for a foreign invader to make it in. When a virus does, some antibodies that are specific for parts of the virus — neutralizing antibodies — recognize and bind to it, which marks the virus for destruction and prevents it from infecting any cells. The body can naturally develop neutralizing antibodies through exposure to the virus after vaccination or an infection.
When scientists want to determine whether those neutralizing antibodies are present in a person, they take blood samples, separate out th …