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New pin prick test helps determine need for COVID booster

Posted at 7:39 AM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 14:25:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A new antibody test, partially developed in Utah, can help track a person’s immunity to COVID-19 variants.

It’s based on a study that found the antibodies generated in people who were vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 prior to 2022 failed to neutralize the variants circulating currently.

READ: FDA authorizes Novavax's protein-based COVID-19 vaccine

It was led by an associate professor at University of Utah Health and a professor at the University of Toronto.

They say the pin prick test will be able to help determine who needs a booster and when.

The researchers say it could ultimately help save lives and avoid future lockdowns.

READ: Utah's first infant COVID vaccine site opens

“I would say that even though we might not be getting seriously infected, the more infection that we have it continues to have this chance of mutation and creating new variants and so if we can slow that down it's really important,” said Dr. Shawn Owen, associate professor at University of Utah Health.

He says this method is faster and cheaper than the current gold standard.

“I don't want people to think that we're starting over,” Dr. Owen said. “The vaccine is protecting us against serious infection and the companies are protecting us against new ones, but the value of our assay is it really kind of guides people on when to get boosted or if you need a booster or this idea of how effective are the previous vaccines.”

The researchers say the plan now is to expand its availability of the new antibody test.