The Food and Drug Administration has given it approval for a test that examines the body’s T-cells to determine if a person was previously infected with the coronavirus, a “game changer” for people who have suffered from mysterious symptoms for months but do not know if they are one of the coronavirus “long haulers.”
Long haulers are people who survived a bout of coronavirus but remain plagued with serious symptoms and conditions for months afterward. It does not matter if their initial sickness was severe or mild, and the post-coronavirus conditions range from migraines and fatigue to kidney failure and mental illness.
The test, created by biotech company Adaptive and Microsoft, scrutinizes the body’s T-cells, which can contain signals of the virus and previous sicknesses, ABC News reported.
T-cells can be more accurate than antibody tests, because antibodies can fade over time.
“We hope that this test will shed more light on how that system can be better targeted, enhanced and armed and ready against future infections,” said Dr. Jim Kublin, a T-cell immune response researcher on Adaptive’s advisory board.
The “T-Detect” test is administered with a patient’s blood sample. The T-cell DNA is extracted from the blood sample and is sequenced using Microsoft technology, revealing the immune system’s information for scientists to study for proof of a previous coronavirus infection.
“We’re looking for that imprint, like a crime scene investigation,” Dr. William Li, who uses the T-Detect test, told ABC News.
“So many people had the disease, recovered, never got a clear-cut diagnosis, yet they’re suffering from these bizarre, persisting symptoms,” Li said. “The T-cell test has been really useful in this long tail of COVID to help patients establish where they are.”