By: Mark Glennon*

Just as highly important information on antibody testing has started to come in for other states, Governor J.B. Pritzker recently announced that he will de-prioritize that testing. He’s withholding results collected so far in Illinois. His full comments are reproduced below.

That’s opposite of what other states are doing and is a mistake.

Antibody tests, also called serology tests, are important because they indicate how much of the population had coronavirus, though they probably never knew, and are therefore likely to be immune for some time. That information is also a key variable heavily influencing projections about rate of future infections.

Pritzker at Friday’s daily briefing

Many headlines from other states are starting to focus on antibody testing because surprising results are now coming in that may begin to inform their policy on the virus. The tests only became available in early April.

Getting particular attention are new numbers from New York and Florida, where very large parts of the population tested positive for antibodies.

One in five New Yorkers may have had Covid-19, the tests suggest, as reported by the New York Times on Thursday. Governor Andrew Cuomo said that might mean the death rate is far lower than believed.

Miami-Dade County test results also showed a surprisingly big part of the population with antibodies. About 6% — around 165,000 residents — have antibodies indicating a past infection by the novel coronavirus, dwarfing the state health department’s tally of about 10,600 cases, according to the Miami Herald on Thursday.

A recent Stanford University antibody study estimates that the fatality rate if infected is likely 0.1 to 0.2 percent, a risk far lower than previous World Health Organization estimates that were 20 to 30 times higher and that motivated isolation policies, as reported by The Hill.

Antibody testing started this month in Illinois with quite a bit of fanfare and publicity. The Chicago Tribune, for example, quoted a spokesman from Family First Medical Group saying, “The test we’re using … is the one most supported by the medical community, including researchers from Stanford…. We’re confident in its safety and results. Overall, they seem to be very accurate.”

What are those Illinois tests saying? That’s what Pritzker isn’t releasing.

But one indication may have come from the Chicago City Wire whose reporters visited Roseland Community Hospital on Chicago’s south side. It was among the first to begin offering serology tests and is doing hundreds of tests per day. A phlebotomy nurse there, according to their story, estimated that a stunning 30% to 50% of patients have been testing positive for antibodies. I emailed the hospital for comment but got no response.

Reliance on antibody testing by individuals has been challenged because the testing has a high error rate, producing many false positives in particular. The Federal Drug Administration has warned about those inaccuracies and said not to use the tests as a “sole” basis for diagnosis of the virus, although it recommends continued use of the tests. Some in Congress, too, are worried about people relying on inaccurate tests. However, some tests may be more accurate than others. Abbott Labs claims its test is 99% accurate. It has been approved for use in the European Union where millions of the tests are now being distributed.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

But there’s a critical distinction here between an individual relying on the tests and the broader empirical value of what the tests indicate about general immunity levels. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has said just that. Given the frequency of false positives, nobody should think they are bulletproof if they get a positive test.

However, adjustments to reflect the error rates can be made for broader research purposes, and that’s the key. As stated in that Miami Herald article about the study there, “researchers used statistical methods to account for the limitations of the antibody test, which is known to generate some false positive results. The researchers say they are 95% certain that the true amount of infection lies between 4.4% and 7.9% of the population, with 6% representing the best estimate.”

Axios put it this way: “You can estimate the spread of a virus in a population with a serological survey (a.k.a. serosurvey), even with a less-than-perfect test. Then you can account for false results using statistical techniques in your analysis.”

Why wouldn’t Pritzker want this data or publish it? Maybe he thinks it’s his place to take it upon himself to protect individuals from their own misuse of the testing. On the other hand, if results here are consistent with New York, Florida, other states and what those Stanford researchers say, projections would undoubtedly be far rosier and Pritzker’s recent extension of stay-at-home rules would become more controversial. And Pritzker seems unconcerned about distinguishing the tests known to be inaccurate from those who claim to be accurate, such as Abbott Labs’.

I’d like to tell you to decide for yourself about how much to make of the new antibody test results for Illinois; I am not trying to make that call for you. But we can’t decide for ourselves because we don’t have the information. Pritzker won’t release the data and now he will cut back on the testing.

Illinois should be collecting and publishing antibody test results just as other states are.

Scrubbing hands is good. But scrubbing key data isn’t.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

This article was updated on May 1, 2010.

Read more about the impact of COVID-19:

*******************

Comments by Governor Pritzker on antibody tests, April 24, 2020:

I also want to talk briefly today about antibody tests, which have been in the headlines recently and have created a lot of buzz. I want to make sure that people have the facts about whether and how these tests are useful.

In theory, these tests could be an effective tool. We’re craving answers in an uncertain time and antibody tests offer the potential for more security. But I’m afraid we’ve seen many of these tests promoted in a way that errs on the side of irresponsible.

To be clear, these tests are not quite where we need them to be to offer a true metric of immunity in Illinois. This is not an Illinois specific problem. As of today, there still are no antibody blood tests certifiably proven to accurately and consistently diagnose COVID-19 antibodies. There are several reasons for that.

First, no one yet knows the true sensitivity and specificity of these tests. That is how accurate or inaccurate they are. Obviously you want to test to be accurate and not offer many false positives or false negatives. That kind of accuracy is in part tied to how long it’s been since a person, potentially had the virus, since it takes, each of us time to produce antibodies, and it’s in part tied to the quality of the test.

Second, this is a novel virus, entirely new. So researchers don’t yet know the extent to which having COVID-19 antibodies equals, having immunity. That’s a question whose answers will only be revealed over weeks or months, and maybe even years, for example, is there a certain exposure level at which antibodies don’t protect you. Or, if you can become immune. How long would immunity last?

Third, it’s not yet confirmed that these tests are able to explicitly identify COVID-19 antibodies versus Corona viruses that cause things like the common cold. The test must, must definitively identify antibodies for COVID-19, and nothing else for them to be fully effective.

We’re monitoring those studies and we’re planning how we could deploy those tests when they’re ready. As soon as they prove themselves accurate and reliable, I will make it a priority to get them into our communities as widely as we can. What I won’t do is run full speed ahead with these tests before they’re proven. Because, among other things, we will be offering people a false sense of security. I’ve said since the beginning that here in Illinois, we will rely on factual data, and we will lead with the science. That, and the goodwill of the people of Illinois, will be what sees us through this pandemic.

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Marjorie Jordan
7 months ago

The governor needs to explain himself to the citizens of this state.

7 months ago

Prirtzker has announced another 30-day lockdown for IL. This has been over ruled by a downstate IL judge, as of late Monday, 4/27. The game is afoot.

7 months ago

Might want to get on truck scale and weigh in………NICE …….PUT ON 200 MORE POUNDS FROM SNAP PROGRAM…….MUST HAVE USED BARRY SOETERO ON APPLICATION FORM………..COMMUNIST EXCREMENT

PatL
7 months ago

“In the name of science – I’m withholding all scientific data”, XOXO, Idiot Pritzker

Miller
7 months ago

Porky “BJ” Putz-tcur looks like he piling on 10-20 of good eatin pounds a week. I know it’s not because he can’t exercise, it couldn’t put in ten minutes. Gov Putz is one of those Dementocraps that loves them illegals, just like Mayor Lightshit and Crook County board president Manhands Taxwinkle.

spooks x intel
7 months ago

FAT BOY needs to reinstall those crappers he took out of his residence in Chicago to CHEAT on his real estate taxes so that he can use one, because he is obviously full of *HIT!

Thomas Hempstead
7 months ago

What do expect from another Chicago thug?

Nomad1946
7 months ago

If the data doesn’t match your expectations, hide it.

a person
7 months ago

The longer that Jabba can keep the state of Illinois and it’s citizen in a state of FEAR the better for him. He and Leftfoot want control and they figure what better way to get it. Also the more people that have the virus, then put on a ventilator and then pass –more money in their pockets.

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  a person

No, it’s all politics. The red death is taking out poor unhealthy minorities at much higher rates than rich white people (although my relative that died of red death last week was an old rich white guy…)…. So basically the entire Democrat voting base!

God forbid that Common or some other person revered in the community come out and say that JB the Billionaire doesn’t care about black and brown people. Imagine the political fallout from that. So they’re overreacting to prevent the political fallout from higher rates of minority deaths.

Dennis Miller
7 months ago

Dr. Erickson in California conducted a study that shows deaths per total confirmed cases of Coniv-19 are one half of one percent in New York, New Jersey and California. Gov. Pritzker should release the results of the Antibody Tests immediately. Actual verifiable results, not models, show Coniv-19 to be no worse than last years’ flu strain.. Further, there is evidence that “cause of death” figures for Coniv-19 have been overstated (rubber stamped) for deaths that were actually from other underlying conditions such as heart disease and lung and kidney disease.

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Miller

The flu has a death rate of .1, or about 1 in 1,000. And it’s not as communicable as red death because people self-isolate when they’re sick. And it’s spread out over the entire flu season. Red death has a death rate of one-half of one-percent, so .5 percent. That’s 5x as lethal as the seasonal flu. And it’s been just in the last two months. And there are symptomatic cases of people spreading it for weeks. The red death just took out an 81 year old relative of mine last week. He probably could have lived another 5 or… Read more »

Lone Protestor
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

I’m new here. Has anyone seen “debtsor” before? Is he a known troll? None of what he says is true, especially the part about people “self-isolating” when they have the flu.

Anyone going on about “the red death” and his 81 year old healthy relation who died prematurely is open to skepticism.

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Lone Protestor

What specifically is not true? Call me a liar about my dead relative, OK I get that because I’m not about to post a link to his obit.

But have you not watched the partisan divides over how to handle the red death? Why is Texas’s order expiring in a few days but NJ’s extended indefinitely?

Lone Protestor
7 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Miller

There is a very funny section in the stats in the run up to last week’s announcement of an extension. If we had any investigative reporters they might FOIA the death records for that week. Now we’re way down in deaths all of a sudden. None of our numbers are credible.

And our supine class of starving journalists should demand the serological results as well, to Dennis’ excellent point.

Jockey
7 months ago

During yesterday’s presser, J.B. was asked if he’s seen the Bulls Mini-Series on ESPN. He said, “I desperately want to watch this I have not gotten around to it, I have to admit I’ve been a little busy”. I appreciate the honesty, J.B. I’m sure pandemic has taking up much of your time. However, if you look @ the Deputy Governor’s/ Chairman of Democratic party’s Twitter page, he’s had plenty of time to watch the Bulls, comment about MMA and bash Trump. This inspire of J.B. personally upping his salary to over 200k a year. From reading it, you wouldn’t… Read more »

Ultimate Gift
7 months ago

Definitely concerning that Jelly not interested in anti-body testing. Also, concerning that Wirepoints cited one of the Dannny Proft’s “publications.” A phlebotomist draws blood; they have no clue on the results of the blood test. Only doctors and nurse practitioners are allowed to see those.

Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  Ultimate Gift

Its Chicago….do you really think any normal protocol’s are followed here ?

alan
7 months ago

Spanky knows that the graduated income tax is doomed unless he can keep the flames of fear stoked.

alan veenstra
7 months ago

Spanky knows that the graduated income tax is doomed unless he can keep the flames of fear stoked.

Jake
7 months ago

Fear is a potent weapon, and the longer JB and the Democrats can keep Illinois in that condition the better for consolidation of power and making more dependent upon the state. Illinois also does not release numbers on those who have recovered from C-19.

Josette Belvedere
7 months ago

I, for one, want to see antibody testing the sooner the better. It may not be perfect but some insight is better than none.

Rainbow Warrior
7 months ago

Thank you Pritzker for protecting us! 🙂👍❤ Having antibodies has not been proven to prevent future infection of covid19 Guys, I know we all want a way to go back to normal right now but **Viruses adapt and evolve aka: mutate** (He is protecting us from the possibility that the government may try to say that we can go back in harms way if we have antibodies (even though it hasnt been proven to help with future infection). He said he’s down for it once it has been proven. Everyone getting upset saying he is denying us of our rights:… Read more »

Tom Paine's Ghost
7 months ago

Rich, Stick to your own little propaganda sheet. People around here have a brain.

The Truth Hurts
7 months ago

“He is protecting us” So under your logic it is acceptable to withhold data if it’s for our own good? What if keeping the economy closed for a virus that has a fatality rate of 0.1% is worse than letting it run its’ course? The UN is warning us just that. “While dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” David Beasley told the council. “There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.” Also to your point that… Read more »

Fedupandpacking
7 months ago

Rainbow-how do you think vaccines work? By introducting parts of the virus, so that we build antibodies…..stick to your rainbows and lollypops

True Believer
7 months ago

Y’all need to get a job.

Bob
7 months ago

Feel free to follow your Dear Leader . Man how are these people still walking. He is protecting us from the government ? He is the government. He is playing you for political reasons now. You are a pawn.

Jake
7 months ago

Show us the facts and let us take the decision on our safety.

Danni Smith
7 months ago

consider all the harm he has caused others. He is not a protector, he is predator. Apparently you don’t know anything about this protoplasm. Plus he was just complaining, as that is all he does, that POTUS did not give us enough antibody testing kits-it was a lie and POTUS made that clear. So now he is saying the tests are no good. I think this man is marcos. He put pension spiking back in and gave all gub employees raises. All he cares about is stealing from the taxpayer-lori the haircut-get rid of those 1000 hyatt rooms you rented… Read more »

Steve
7 months ago

We’ve got a useful idiot here folks!
You people would follow these evil power hungry elites right over a cliff! This is exactly how evil people so easily control their minions and day by day you can watch your freedom erode right into the incinerators….

Cindy Bailey
7 months ago

Great article!!!!! Thank you for exposing this valuable tool!!!!!

Ryan
7 months ago

So we have to have 100% reliable data when it comes to testing for antibodies but it’s still ok to list the cause of death as covid-19 if a person showed symptoms but wasn’t tested?

Bob
7 months ago

So this guy has the right to tell the people of Illinois only what HE wants them to know ? The people around him are a part of this scam now.

HadEnough
7 months ago

He must feel pretty comfortable with the democrats ability to rig an election……

DixonSyder
7 months ago

Bubblehead couldn’t manage a lemonade stand. I wonder what would have happened to a large hotel chain manager who bought $17million in defective products (like the crap Bubblehead bought)? Bubblehead is so far out of his league its laughable

Fed up neighbor
7 months ago

Why then if this man is covering up important life altering data, along with his staff why is he not being taken to court and sued for the results, misrepresentation, corruption, swindling. He should also be tried in a court of law for total negligence to are seniors, he totally ignored there well being. This man needs to be removed from office he is going beyond his power as Governor. Screw your progressive tax Pritzker that’s all you give a damn about, people of Illinois it is time to recall this governor

Lone Protestor
7 months ago

Can we FOIA the results? Or could the Feds do their own testing in state? That might be a better option anyway.

TimeForJBtoGO
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

The judicial and legislative branches of our state government should exist to function as a check and balance of the authority of King J.B… Where are they? Crickets…

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  TimeForJBtoGO

They’re all one in the same – the Democrat party. And it’s exactly what voters want – because they fear abortion becoming illegal if the other party is elected.

debtsor
7 months ago

Jabba just skirts from one scandal to another leaving a complete disaster in his wake. This guy is going to be unceremoniously kicked out of office in a few years. Unfortunately, the next governor’s election will be between an avowed socialists and some no name republican RINO with a storied history.

Terri Lurkins
7 months ago

He hasn’t a clue of how to govern, but he is 100% corrupt and holding us hostage. People dying in Hospice care are counted in his Covid-19 numbers; even though they already were dying from another cause. We deserve true numbers not his pick and choose and then change it numbers when they suggest Illinois may not have as many confirmed deaths per 100,000.

True believer
7 months ago
Reply to  Terri Lurkins

He needs to lie about the numbers to keep the lockdown order continued. He has his own studies. He wants to keep everything locked down to blame trump and get free money. He needs to be investigated but Loris suck buddy John Lausch is protecting Pritzker and all Loris people like Ferguson.

Danni Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  True believer

no bailout

Rick
7 months ago

It’s a political calculation. He needs every citizen to believe that there is no widespread immunity out there already. His reason to keep everyone isolated for another month is gone if herd immunity is on the rise. The calculation in place is to implement the progressive tax, he cares about nothing else except that tax going through. Another month of shutdown will give him more bad numbers to argue for the tax. Transparency of tests is something he can’t tolerate until after he’s made his case for the tax stronger by making the deficits bigger.

E Det
7 months ago

There is risk of false positives in many realms of testing…mammograms is one example. So what is done when that happens? You get a follow-up appointment for another test Certainly no reason to hold the whole state hostage!

Kim J U
7 months ago

I believe he is just auditioning for that opening in North Korea

7 months ago

He can’t have that FBI investigation continued

True believer
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Yeah the FBI in this town is a joke. And Laush’s head is so far up Loris ass, he can’t even see straight. He got her elected by indicting Burke to take out Daley, Preckwinkle and Mendoza to help Lori.

7 months ago

this state should be put in receivership if there is that sort of thing……….so bills can be paid and spenders can be kept under thumb……bring our beautiful state back…….or we will be Detroit!!

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  PAM CARON

Take a drive around the state: we are already Detroit. There are abandoned factories everywhere, vacant housing sitting in underused neighborhoods, 75% vacant strip malls that can’t even charge enough rent to pay the commercial taxes, higher crime than surrounding states, higher numbers of people in poverty or near poverty than surrounding states, a business climate that drives businesses away, stagnant housing prices in ‘good’ areas, crumbling infrastructure, a corrupt government of gerrymandered Democrats all on the take, unions that bleed the state dry… “VOTE BLUE ALWAYS!” Otherwise evil Republicans will take away your right to ‘choose’. At the end… Read more »

Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Abortion should just be taken out of the POLITICAL discussion now. Those that accept and condone it will never back down so lets just not make it a political thing anymore. We know this state is majority pro abortion. We need to focus on corruption and financial matters now. I wonder how many people get state pensions and work for the cities and state. The number must be huge and thats a voter bloc. If we give them their abortion maybe we can get people to see how corruption has destroyed the state and may someday cost them pension money.… Read more »

Richard Poo Millersky
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Besides abortion another top Democratic issue is gun control/gun ownership.

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob

The pensioners and Democrats are the enemies. I don’t say that lightly, but this political warfare, and Democrats view Republicans the same way. They gerrymandered our party out of existence in the state. A political genocide, so to speak. The pensioners have a mindset of ‘getting what is theirs’ – their lavish and undeserved pensions – at the expense of everyone and everything else, including poor residents, uninsured residents, unemployed residents, Tier II workers, taxpayers. They will never, ever, in a million years, ever agree to any sort of compromise or reduction in their pension. It has to be done… Read more »

marqfive
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Dude , excellent insight. Have been saying this since it started. Flintstone is dragging illinoise into the abyss for a reason. He wants the rest of America to bail out the state. This once great state is steaming towards bankruptcy full steam ahead.

James
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Debtsor, contrary to your generalized assertion that IL public employee pensioners are intransigent about giving up anything at all in terms of their “constitutionally guaranteed” rights I have a different take on it as you might well have guessed. What I want is reasonable COMPROMISE with each side giving up something and each side gaining something. Over the last two months I’ve twice write notes two different proposals for doing that and been met with the basic “let them all eat dog food” and other F U derisive comments instead of suggesting my ideas as food for thought. So, I… Read more »

debtsor
7 months ago
Reply to  James

So your compromise is to reduce your COLA to a CPI and claw it back if necessary?

This is a non-starter.

I propose we reduce your pension by 2/3rds, no COLA, no CPI, no health benefits, or reduce it to the maximum what the PBGF (fed’s pension benefit guaranteed fund) would offer.

Which is currently $1,500.00 per month, max. Will you take $1,500 per month? Your benefit of $18,000 a year is likely far, far more than you ever contributed, even with interest and market returns.

That’s my starting offer. My offer isn’t going up from there.

James
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

That’s why this whole process will go “nuclear” at some point. You are like most here in that you don’t want compromise, you want total destruction of the whole idea and anyone benefitting in the least from it. I offer compromise, and you offer stupidity in return. Go pound sand!

UnclePugsly
7 months ago

Awesome article! Pritzker has been hiding data for weeks – anyone know what the current ‘active cases are’? I really don’t care about who tested positive a month or more ago, but the curve looks more dramatic.

Pritzker and Democrats request for a $41B bailout from Federal taxpayers was also ‘trust us’.

Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  UnclePugsly

i always look at Worldometers for numbers. Illinois is always lacking if not missing altogether. I dont know where people look for Illinois numbers.

Danni Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  UnclePugsly

no bailout-the state had the right to self-destruct-the state maintains the right to resurrect itself

7 months ago

recall this Governor ……doesn’t seem to have a clue