Foster Urges HHS to rapidly deploy COVID-19 Antibody Testing
4/2/2020, 11:12 a.m.
Washington, DC - This week, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL), Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), and Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) led a bipartisan letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in support of their efforts to encourage innovation in COVID-19 testing, and urging them to rapidly deploy COVID-19 antibody tests that have met accuracy and safety standards as rapidly and widely as possible.
Simple antibody tests have been developed by U.S. companies and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These serological tests detect the immune system's response to viral infections, including COVID-19. These tests can identify people who have already acquired immunity to COVID-19, and who can safely re-enter the workforce, travel, and return to normal life.
"It is imperative that the United States does not continue to be behind the curve on COVID-19 testing, including on the antibody testing that will be vital as we eventually restart the economy and which will take place only after a large fraction of the population is confident that they are immune to infection so that it is safe to work, travel, and return to normal life," Foster said. "It will be an unnecessary economic tragedy if our citizens remain cowering at home because we failed to provide them with the simple, inexpensive means of proving their immunity - the tests should be deployed as rapidly and widely as possible. This must be followed by the ability for individuals to reliably certify that they are immune to COVID-19 so that they can return to normal life - especially for workers in critical industries like healthcare and food."
"The reality of COVID-19 is that many Americans, especially the younger population, will have gotten the virus without them knowing because either their symptoms were too mild or because tests were not available at the time they got sick," said Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. "Serological testing is an easy and quick method to check if Americans have acquired COVID-19 immunity. As a doctor and Member of Congress, I strongly urge the Administration to deploy these tests as rapidly and widely as possibly. Serological testing would allow for many Americans to safely re-enter the workforce, providing a boost to our economy."
"Americans must work for the good of their families, our economy, and our country," said Congressman Brooks. "At the same time, America must minimize or eliminate COVID-19 health risks. Many Americans have beat COVID-19 with minimal or no adverse health effects. They did so with their own COVID-19 antibodies. COVID-19 antibody testing, followed by harvesting of COVID-19 antibodies and injection of them into sick patients, is a very promising, potential COVID-19 treatment and cure. As such, I encourage Secretary Azar and Director Bright to deploy these antibody tests rapidly and widely to help America's medical profession acquire another weapon in the fight against COVID-19."
The letter was signed by a bipartisan group of 113 Members of Congress.